What is brainstorming?
Well brainstorming is defined by Merriam’s Webster as a group problem-solving technique that involves the spontaneous contribution of ideas from all members of the group; also : the mulling over of ideas by one or more individuals in an attempt to devise or find a solution to a problem.
With every new project that I am assigned to whether it is work related to a personal graphic, I try to understand and educate myself on every aspect of the business. The best achievement to accomplish is to ask many questions on what the task is at hand. I know, I know… I have heard this many times over and over again. The business or the individual has very few answers as this can be quite difficult for them as well. Many business owners or new entrepreneurs tend to grasp at straws to give you what little they can. Most will tell you they know exactly what they want but essentially after brainstorming to find they know very little of what they truly want.
This being said, brainstorming is best done with a group of people rather than one on one meeting. Brainstorming can get ideas passed around and some may even sound rather ridiculous but it is definitely effective. Why you ask? Some great concepts started with ridiculous ideas and gravitated to something so beautiful and wonderful. I believe I can name a few that everyone has heard of as being so stupid and yet so brilliant.
The Pet Rock
Ah yes, what childhood in the 1970’s would be complete without the “perfect pet”: a rock. Just think of it: they don’t need to be fed, watered, walked or bathed. But to seriously sell them, and expect people to pay?
Turns out there “is” a market for everything. For cool canines who don’t dig the sun, Doggles is the answer. The company has been featured on CNN, The Today Show and National Geographic. And in the age of Facebook, cute pictures of pets sporting sunglasses isn’t hurting their sales, either.
Aquariums… without the fish
A more sophisticated version of what the Pet Rock was in the 70s, the fancy-named “Ecosphere Closed Ecosystem” is the “perfect pet” for the 21st century. Perfect in that it doesn’t need to be fed, watered, walked or bathed. In other words, fake plants in a water bowl…
I have explored and read a few other articles on brainstorming myself and I think the best well written and right on point is from a site called mindtools.com. I would like to reference them and give them complete credit on the verbiage written below.
Here, you can take advantage of the full experience and creativity of all team members. When one member gets stuck with an idea, another member’s creativity and experience can take the idea to the next stage. You can develop ideas in greater depth with group brainstorming than you can with individual brainstorming.
Another advantage of group brainstorming is that it helps everyone feel that they’ve contributed to the solution, and it reminds people who others have creative ideas to offer. It’s also fun, so it can be great for team building!
Group brainstorming can be risky for individuals. Unusual suggestions may appear to lack value at first sight – this is where you need to chair sessions tightly, so that the group doesn’t crush these ideas and stifle creativity.
Where possible, participants should come from a wide range of disciplines. This cross-section of experience can make the session more creative. However, don’t make the group too big: as with other types of teamwork, groups of five to seven people are usually most effective.
You often get the best results by combining individual and group brainstorming, and by managing the process according to the “rules” below. By doing this, you can get people to focus on the issue without interruption, you maximize the number of ideas that you can generate, and you get that great feeling of team bonding that comes with a well-run brainstorming session!
Step 1: Prepare the Group
First, set up a comfortable meeting environment for the session. Make sure that the room is well-lit and that you have the tools, resources, and refreshments that you need.
How much information or preparation does your team need in order to brainstorm solutions to your problem? Remember that prep is important, but too much can limit – or even destroy – the freewheeling nature of a brainstorming session.
Consider who will attend the meeting. A room full of like-minded people won’t generate as many creative ideas as a diverse group, so try to include people from a wide range of disciplines, and include people who have a variety of different thinking styles.
When everyone is gathered, appoint one person to record the ideas that come from the session. This person shouldn’t necessarily be the team manager – it’s hard to record and contribute at the same time. Post notes where everyone can see them, such as on flip charts or whiteboards; or use a computer with a data projector.
If people aren’t used to working together, consider using an appropriate warm-up exercise, or an icebreaker.
Step 2: Present the Problem
Clearly define the problem that you want to solve, and lay out any criteria that you must meet. Make it clear that the meeting’s objective is to generate as many ideas as possible.
Give people plenty of quiet time at the start of the session to write down as many of their own ideas as they can. Then, ask them to share their ideas, while giving everyone a fair opportunity to contribute.
Step 3: Guide the Discussion
Once everyone has shared their ideas, start a group discussion to develop other people’s ideas, and use them to create new ideas. Building on others’ ideas is one of the most valuable aspects of group brainstorming.
Encourage everyone to contribute and to develop ideas, including the quietest people, and discourage anyone from criticizing ideas.
As the group facilitator, you should share ideas if you have them, but spend your time and energy supporting your team and guiding the discussion. Stick to one conversation at a time, and refocus the group if people become sidetracked.
Although you’re guiding the discussion, remember to let everyone have fun while brainstorming. Welcome creativity, and encourage your team to come up with as many ideas as possible, regardless of whether they’re practical or impractical. Use thought experiments such as Provocation or Random Input to generate some unexpected ideas.
Don’t follow one train of thought for too long. Make sure that you generate a good number of different ideas, and explore individual ideas in detail. If a team member needs to “tune out” to explore an idea alone, allow them the freedom to do this.
Also, if the brainstorming session is lengthy, take plenty of breaks so that people can continue to concentrate.
The information written in this section is accredited by mindtools.com
In summary, brainstorming has many advantages and can get your ideas expressed. These can start from something small to possibly a great overall venue of designs, ideas, concepts and much further. Brainstorming is best achieved when approached as a group than individualized. I hope this post was and can be of some aid to everyone. Feel free to subscribe to my website for more posts entries at brianmwells.com