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What is Brainstorming?
Have you ever been stuck trying to develop new ideas for your next project? Or maybe you just need some inspiration to keep going when you feel like giving up.
Brainstorming is a method to start a process of creative thinking which generates fresh ideas. It involves developing a list of potential solutions to problems and discussing each solution. This process helps people think outside their usual thinking patterns and allows them to devise creative ways to solve problems. And they can help teams perform better, be more productive and produce a list of actionable tasks.
Brainstorming is also known as idea generation or ideation, and advertising executive Alex Faickney Osborn first popularized the term in his 1953 book AppliedImagination.
A brainstorming session should be conducted in an open space where participants can move freely. Participants should feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and opinions openly and honestly. They should be encouraged to speak freely and voice their concerns without fear of being judged.
During a brainstorming session, allowing everyone to contribute equally is essential. Everyone needs to feel safe enough to speak their mind. Others might feel intimidated and stop contributing if one person dominates the conversation.
Benefits of Brainstorming
Brainstorming is one of those things we do without thinking about it. We gather into our meetings, sit around a table and start talking. There are some excellent reasons why we should consider doing it more often. Here are three benefits of Brainstorming:
The most apparent benefit of Brainstorming is that it gets our creative juices flowing. You might think creativity is reserved for artists and writers, but research suggests otherwise. Studies show that Brainstorming boosts creativity. So whether you’re trying to improve productivity, solve problems or find solutions to everyday challenges, Brainstorming can help.
Better Decision Making
Another reason to use Brainstorming is that it helps us make better decisions. Brainstorming forces us to look beyond our usual way of thinking. This makes us more open to new ideas and perspectives. And since Brainstorming encourages divergent thinking, it helps us avoid making quick judgments and sticking too closely to our initial thoughts.
Finally, Brainstorming can lead to collaboration among team members. Brainstorming encourages people to talk freely and creates a safe environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their opinions. This leads to increased communication, which can help teams work together toward common goals.
1: Set the Stage
Before beginning the brainstorming session, set up the room to ensure everyone feels comfortable and relaxed. This includes turning down lights, removing distractions, and ensuring there aren’t too many voices. You might want to dim the lights, turn on soft music, or play white noise to drown out background noise. For example, you could use a fan to blow air over attendees’ faces or place a large bowl filled with water near the table. If possible, avoid having the meeting occur in a loud area where others might interrupt.
2: Start With a Warm Welcome
The purpose of the meeting is to come up with creative solutions to problems. To do that effectively, you’ll need to welcome each person to the group and let them know what you hope to accomplish. When someone walks into a meeting, they don’t necessarily understand why they are there. They probably assume that the reason is that the team leader needs a particular business activity to be completed. But that isn’t always true. Most meetings start with a warm welcome. The goal of a warm welcome is to build rapport and establish trust among members of the team.
3: Get Everyone Involved
The team leader needs to guide the discussion, keep participants focused, encourage them to contribute without criticizing and avoid awkward silence. If you’ve already established trust among the group, you can now begin asking questions to gather information. Questions such as “What does this mean?” or “How did you arrive at this conclusion?” will allow everyone to express their opinions and provide insight into the problem. Asking open-ended questions allows everyone to speak freely and helps prevent one group member from dominating the conversation.
Popular Brainstorming Exercises
This group activity is common among businesses and organizations, including marketing, advertising, project planning, and design. Brainstorming is essential to gain insight into people’s ideas and improve creativity. There exist various effective brainstorming techniques, dependent upon your needs. First, we’ll discuss popular brainstorming methods.
The Big Idea Method
This is a simple brainstorming technique where participants write down every idea they think of. They do not limit themselves to one idea per person or one idea per sheet of paper. Afterwards, each participant ranks their ideas according to importance. Then, the team selects the highest ranked ideas and tries to find connections among them. Finally, they choose the best idea out of those selected ones.
The “What If?” Technique
In this technique, participants write down everything they know about a particular subject. For example, If you want to come up with ideas for a new product, you could ask yourself questions like: What does the market need? How much money do customers spend on products similar to mine? What are my competitors doing? What is the competition offering? What are the benefits of my product compared to others? And so on.
The Five Ws Technique
The five Ws technique is another excellent brainstorming technique. Participants start by writing down what they already know about the topic. Next, they add what they don’t know. Then, they list the things that might affect the situation. Lastly, they write down why it matters.
In my experience, brainwriting is one of the most powerful tools I’ve ever used to develop creative solutions to complex problems. Brainwriting is a process where you write down what you think about something without judging it. Instead, you just let your thoughts flow freely.
This technique works best when applied to large groups of people. Brainwriting can be very helpful when trying to solve a problem collectively. For example, if you want to find out how many different ways to make a pizza, you could ask everyone in the room to list every possible combination of toppings. Then, once you’ve got a long list of possibilities, you can start eliminating options based on whether they work well together or don’t.
You can do brainwriting individually too. Just take some time to sit quietly and let your mind wander. Don’t judge your thoughts; just let them flow. If you like, you can use sticky notes to jot down random things that pop into your head. This is an excellent way to get your creativity flowing.
“Five Whys” Analysis
Developed by the father of the Toyota Production System (TPS), the 5 Whys Technique can be applied to any process improvement initiative.
The 5 Whys Technique is a question-answering technique used to determine the cause of a problem. The method involves asking the question “Why?” five times and then following up with each answer until you understand the root cause of the issue. It’s a good idea to keep track of your progress through a flow chart or fishbone diagram.
Starbursting is a brainstorming method that starts with one central brainstorming question and then expands outward. This helps teams generate ideas quickly while focusing on the most important ones. There are many different ways to use starbursting, including:
– Brainstorming a list of questions about a topic
– Visualizing how a product works
– Generating ideas for a project timeline
– Coming up with creative solutions to problems
The process begins with putting one central idea on a blank piece of paper or whiteboard. Then, draw a circle around it. Next, add another circle inside the original circle. Continue drawing circles until you reach the outermost circle. You now have five circles representing the five points of the star. These are called “points of focus.”
Now, ask yourself what each of those five points represents. For example, the first point might be “Who?” Then, if you don’t know the answer to that question, you could say, “What do we want our target audience to think when they see this idea?” And finally, “When?” — asking yourself what day you want people to experience the concept.
A mind map is a visual interpretation of generated ideas and helps people organize information. They’re commonly used by students and professionals alike to help them think about complex topics. It’s been called “the thinking tool.” Creating a mind map involves starting with the main subject or central concept and then branching out into different areas. You’ll want to ensure each branch is relevant to the central concept. For example, if you’re making a mind map about how to write a book proposal, you wouldn’t start with the word “book” and work your way outward. Instead, you’d start with something like “publishing,” “writing,” and “marketing.” Then you could branch out further.
You might find yourself getting stuck along the way. If that happens, just keep moving forward. Don’t worry too much about whether you’ve captured everything. Instead, try to cover enough ground to get a good sense of what’s happening.
Once you’ve finished, you can print it out and use it as inspiration for future projects. Or you can save it to your computer and reference it later. Once you’re done, you can add notes, tags, and keywords to help you quickly find it again.
Round Robin Brainstorming
In many cases, brainstorming sessions are structured around one person giving ideas while others listen and add additional thoughts. This method works well when you want to gather lots of creative input quickly and efficiently. However, it doesn’t always work for teams that require a lot of collaboration and discussion. In those situations, round-robin brainstorming is an excellent tool because it encourages equal participation from each team member.
To ensure that every participant gets their fair share of attention, give everyone the same time limit to speak and answer the same number of questions. If someone wants to take longer to think about a question, let them do so without interrupting anyone else.
Another benefit of round-robin brainstorming: Everyone feels like they are being heard and valued. You don’t have to worry about people feeling left out; everyone gets a chance to voice their opinion.
The rapid ideation process involves having participants come together in groups of three or four people each. They are given a specific time limit to brainstorm ideas about a particular topic. At the end of the session, each group presents one idea to the rest of the room. This continues until everyone has had a chance to present their ideas. Once the presentations are complete, the facilitator asks questions to encourage further discussion.
This technique works best with a small group because it requires less space than traditional brainstorming methods such as free association and mind mapping. However, it does require some planning ahead of time. You must know what you want to discuss beforehand. If you don’t, you won’t be able to ask any meaningful questions during the session.
You might use rapid ideation to help solve problems, develop products, or improve processes. For example, if you’re trying to figure out how to make something better, you could start by asking yourself why it isn’t working well now. Then, you could assign each team member to focus on a different aspect of the problem. Afterwards, you could gather the teams’ findings and compare them to see where improvements could be made.
In reverse Brainstorming, participants are given a set amount of time to think about a specific topic. Then, they are asked to write down everything that comes into their mind, even if it seems unrelated to the original question. At the end of the session, every participant presents their list of thoughts to the group. The idea here is that you don’t want to limit yourself to thinking about one solution; you want to explore every available way of approaching the problem.
The process is meant to help people avoid getting stuck in a rut and coming up with solutions that seem obvious because they’ve been discussed too much. Instead, you’re trying to find the most creative, unique ways to approach the issue.
When solving problems, many companies rely on brainstorming sessions where employees sit around a table and discuss ideas.
While this approach has proven effective in some instances, it does not always produce the best results.
Brainstorming sometimes appears to fail because it relies too heavily on an individual’s creative ideas. When you’re working alone, you tend to think about things in isolation. But when you devise innovative solutions, you notice how your teammates’ perspectives influence your thinking. And since no one person knows everything, you end up with many different ideas that don’t add up to anything coherent.
That is the reason the brainstorming method called stepladder brainstorming was developed. Instead of sitting down and discussing ideas, the participants were asked to stand up and walk around the room while discussing them. As they move around, they note what others say and can see how their ideas relate to each other. By walking around the room, they’re forced to consider multiple points of view, and they’re unlikely to focus on just one idea.
This method works incredibly well for groups that struggle with social anxiety. If someone feels uncomfortable speaking up during a traditional brainstorming session, they can still participate without worrying about being ridiculed. Plus, if you use this method, you’ll find that people are much more willing to contribute ideas. They feel like they’ve got something to offer, even if they haven’t thought about a particular topic before.
A SWOT analysis helps you identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This information will help you decide your future plans, products, projects, etc.
The purpose of a SWOT Analysis is to gain insight into your organization. You can use it to help plan strategy, prioritize tasks, and set goals.
You can conduct a SWOT analysis or ask one of your employees to do it for you.
Here are some questions to consider while doing a SWOT analysis:
Strengths – What makes us unique?
Weaknesses – What could we improve?
Opportunities – Where does our industry grow?
Threats – How can we protect ourselves against competitors?
Brain-Netting Tools for Remote Teams
I have worked with remote teams in the United Kingdom, and ideally, you need to meet in a single space to discuss issues and resolve difficulties, and this may not always be possible or convenient. Using Brain-meeting with remote groups may not be ideal; however, it does present an opportunity for team collaboration to be part of online Brainstorming and developing creative ideas to provide tangible solutions to a problem or issue. There are several different ways to use brain-networking techniques. Some people prefer to send out emails asking for feedback; others prefer to post questions on a wall where everyone can see them.
- The most basic form of brain networking involves individual Brainstorming and asking the individuals to send their flow of ideas to a central place for review. Beyond that, there are several different approaches.
- Group calls can be used to get feedback from people who aren’t physically present. They’re also great for getting ideas across quickly without wasting paper and ink. One solution is through a conference call. Nowadays, almost every company offers a service where they’ll connect you with others via phone or online chat. Some charge per minute; others provide unlimited usage. Most of these services are free to try, so check them out before committing to anyone.
- Chat apps let you share emails based on topics of interest, privacy levels, and more. You may want to create little chatrooms for just a few people or share information and collaborate much more widely. For group discussions, you can use forum software or project management tools like Trello or BaseCamp.
- Video Conferencing – The next step would undoubtedly be video conferencing, with the ability to share both video and screenshots. It’s fantastic to display the website or application you’re working on and its associated discussion. Some top choices for this type of service are Skype, Zoom, Go To Meeting and Uber Conference.
- Regular brainstorming sessions for the remote team can become a team-building session to continue the team’s inclusion in creating innovative ideas for the development of the business.
In conclusion, creative brainstorming techniques are a powerful approach for generating a large number of quantity of ideas which can be filtered into quality ideas. However, it doesn’t happen automatically; you must actively participate in the process. So whether you decide where to spend your next vacation or come up with a new product idea, keep these five steps in mind:
- Start by asking questions
- Write down your answers.
- Look for patterns.
- Use logic
- Make connections.
Once you’ve done all that, you’ll have a solid foundation to build your ideas. And if you want to turn your thoughts into reality, you’ll need to follow through on each step. That means writing down your ideas, following through on your plans, and building upon your successes.
But don’t worry too much about perfection. Just because you haven’t gotten everything perfects the first time around doesn’t mean you won’t ever succeed. On the contrary, it’s often the failures that lead us to success.