Brainstorming methods can help you come up with creative ideas regardless of the type of problem that you’re trying to solve. In today’s quick tips episode, Laura Kukemelk shares 7 ideas for brainstorming sessions that you can either do on your own or with a team.
If you are taking some time off this summer, then you are likely to experience the phenomenon of getting so many great ideas about what to do in your business. And on the one hand, it may be frustrating if you are trying to tune out of work-related thoughts, but on the other hand - if you are getting the rest your mind & body needs, if you are changing up your environment and doing different things than what you normally do, then creative ideas just come to you naturally.
But sometimes, when you are under pressure and have tight deadlines at work, those great ideas can be hard to come by. So, one way to “wake up your brain” is through brainstorming methods. These are especially beneficial if you want to find “out-of-the-box” type of ideas or solutions to a challenge.
Why does brainstorming work? Well, our brains use different regions to solve different tasks. If we switch things up from our typical day-to-day, different regions of our brain start to work.
There are potentially thousands of ways to carry out a brainstorming session, but today let’s focus on seven tried-and-tested ones that you can either do alone or with your team.
- First one is focusing on "bad ideas" (impractical, stupid, etc.) - this takes away the tension and fear that any idea is foolish. This works especially well in teams and you can ask each team member to come up with the most absurd idea that they can think of. In the second round of brainstorming, people are already “loose” and willing to open up.
- Number 2 is “Disassembling” and “rebuilding” ideas - this means allowing others to modify and add their own perspective to your idea. An easy way is to use note papers, where each team member writes one idea and then gives it to the next person to complete.
- Next idea is word games and word clouds - first write down a very general idea on the paper and then add different words that relate to the idea and that pop up to your head as you think of this concept. Later, added words can be grouped by topic.
- Making a moodboard - putting pictures, texts, quotes, etc. on a board to convey the idea visually. This can help you see the problem from a new angle.
- Improvisation games - it is great to do a role playing game with the team, maybe even going outside of the office. The purpose is to create a playful environment and relieve people from tensions. The game helps to create an environment of trust where you are more willing to come up with crazy ideas. I.e.: You will assign roles, such as queen, academic, court jester, child, and then will ask them to answer questions through the perspective of their assigned character. The idea is that you get to see similar situations through different "glasses" or perspectives.
- Drawing or scribbling - the brain works differently when we draw our thoughts instead of speaking or writing. For example, you could take the general theme and draw it in different parts. For example, a "dog" theme requires drawing of paws, tail, ears, muzzle, etc., in order for the brain to work differently. Another good approach is to combine two completely unrelated things into one image. For example, "elephant and ice cream" can give an image of an elephant who has an ice cream cone instead of a trunk. The idea is that you think of a problem in a different way by applying a different technique than the ones you are used to.
- New Environment - brainstorm with the team outside of the office. Unusual environments make creativity easier because inspiration comes from the surrounding environment. You can get a very effective brainstorming out in the open air, such as at sports games or just a picnic.
The most important thing to remember in brainstorming is that criticizing is not allowed. Make sure to be clear with what it is that you are looking the answer for and what you expect from the group members, e.g. their attention and active participation.