Brainstorming is one of the fundamental building blocks of creativity. If you have ever been asked to come up with a collection of creative new ideas – whether in the school or work environment – you have probably used some form of brainstorming as part of your process.
While you have probably brainstormed at least once or twice in the past, it is always helpful to review the techniques that you are going to rely on to be productive in business. By taking a closer look at how you can brainstorm effectively, you just may be able to get more out of this process moving forward.
It Starts with Freedom
One of the first things to understand about brainstorming is the fact that it is meant to be one of the most open and free tools of creativity that you can use. At first, there are going to be very few limitations placed on what can come from your brainstorming sessions – the whole point of the process is to think of as many new, innovative ideas as possible. The time for practicality and rational thinking will come later on down the line. For now, you are going to keep your mind as open as possible while trying to collect a variety of potentially great ideas.
It is often difficult to get creativity flowing freely within an established organization because staff members are often reluctant to pose new ideas that may be seen as unrealistic. This is why it is important to create a brainstorming environment that is supportive and encouraging – you want to allow all participants to use their creativity as fully as possible.
It doesn’t matter that most of the ideas shared during brainstorming will never see the light of day. You are looking for the one or two brilliant ideas among the pack that can change your business, and those ideas are only going to be revealed when brainstorming is used properly.
An Individual and Group Method
When dealing with business tools, the tools you will come across can usually be placed into one of two categories – individual tools, and group tools. However, when talking about brainstorming, you will find that this method can actually be used both by individuals and by groups. In fact, there are some benefits to brainstorming alone, and there are other benefits to be enjoyed when you bring a group into the picture.
Some of the key benefits of individual brainstorming are as follows –
- Ultimate freedom. Even when all members of a group are instructed to be as supportive as possible, there is still bound to be some judgment and criticism within the process. That won’t be a problem with individual brainstorming, however, as you will be free to record any and all ideas that come to mind.
- Rather than being distracted by the conversation and activity of the group as a whole, you can focus in on the task at hand when you brainstorm on an individual basis.
- Leverage your experience. If you have detailed experience with a specific problem that needs to be solved, it may be best to brainstorm solutions to that problem all on your own. After all, you have the experience and knowledge necessary, so it should be just a matter of time until you find a proper solution.
Of course, there are plenty of benefits to be noted when talking about group brainstorming as well, such as the points on the list below –
- Variety of backgrounds. When brainstorming as a group, you will have access to the various experiences of all members of the group, so you will be more likely to stumble on a quality idea or solution. An idea that may have been missed by an individual brainstorming just may be found by the group.
- Promote teamwork. Every organization can benefit from bringing its team together to work toward a common goal. By having a productive team brainstorming session from time to time, you will be able to build morale and allow everyone to feel like they are having input in the process.
- Deeper solutions. Once someone within the group brainstorming session comes across a good idea, others in the group may be able to expand on the idea in order to come up with a thorough, complex answer to the problem at hand.
A Clear Problem
Brainstorming is meant to be a form of creativity that places an emphasis on freedom, but you still need to have some basic structure in place for your brainstorming sessions. Generally, that structure is going to come in the way of a problem. What is the problem that you are trying to solve with this session? By clearly defining the problem that you are trying to solve, you should be able to keep your brainstorming process moving in the right direction. This is important whether you are brainstorming as an individual or in a group setting.
Moving on to Other Tools
Brainstorming is a great way to ‘get the ball rolling’ with regard to the ideas you need to drive your business forward. It is not, however, the end of the road for those ideas. If you don’t take action on the best ideas that come out of your brainstorming sessions, you will have accomplished nothing other than wasting some valuable time.
So, to make sure you capitalize on the great ideas that have come from your brainstorming time, it is important that you have other tools in place and ready to go. Tools that are focused on helping you take action on all of your great ideas are necessary at this point. Be ready to go with those next steps so you can transition immediately from brainstorming into the action phase.
It is extremely simple to get started with a brainstorming session of your own, which is why this is one of the best creativity tools available to groups and organizations. Allow your people to brainstorm freely and without judgement – and you should be able to watch them flourish along with your company for years to come.
- Brainstorming is one of the fundamental building blocks of creativity and most people will have used it in some form when trying to come up with new ideas.
- Even if you have used it before, it is such a powerful tool that it is worth taking the time to see if you could improve the way you approach it in the future.
- The most important thing is to create a brainstorming environment that is supportive and encouraging because you want to allow all participants to use their creativity as fully as possible.
- Brainstorming is meant to be a form of creativity that places an emphasis on freedom, but you still need to have some basic structure in place for your brainstorming sessions.
- The key is to have asked the right question or to have posed the problem in a way that at least some of the results of the brainstorming session are usable.