Do you remember that awkward moment at the office, when you called for a meeting to brainstorm new ideas for a client's job or to scale your company’s offerings? The chill you got from the dull, empty stares in the eyes of your teammates and how you almost canceled the session in frustration when they were not coming up with the kinds of breath-taking ideas you hoped for?
It’s not just you, it happens to the best of us :) …
In order to develop truly innovative and customer-friendly solutions, it is very important that you are working with great ideas and great ideas come as a result of great ideation processes.
This article shows you 20 useful and practical brainstorming techniques for creative and strategy teams.
1. MIND MAPPING
Start with your goal, then list out as many ideas as possible. Next, plot these ideas into clusters or a hierarchical tree format.
2. ROLE STORM
Put yourself in the shoes of your customers, clients, student, employer or competitor and generate ideas that can help you in your made-up role.
3. THINK THE OTHER WAY
Ask yourself where everybody is going and what everybody is doing then go the opposite direction and see what you can find.
4. USE THE RIGHT ROOM
Brainstorm in a venue that encourages creativity, openness, and professionalism. Be strategic in the location you choose for your brainstorming sessions.
5. BRAINSTORMING APPS
Leverage technology. To amplify your efforts, there are some digital tools that can make your work more effective, especially if your team is not made up of more than 2 or 3 members.
Do this by morphing the size and importance of the goal. Shrink the goal to 1% and multiply it by 1000, what would you do in each situation?
7. TIME TRAVELLING
Do this by asking your team what they would do if it was a different time period, how would the same problem be solved 200 years into the future or 3000 years ago?
8. GIVE FULL DISCLOSURE
Everyone in the team required to brainstorm should know all the details about the project. It doesn’t help to leave some team members in the dark as it can affect the contribution and quality of ideas raised.
9. WRITE DOWN 101 OPTIONS
Use this technique to generate as many ideas as possible. Make sure you keep writing or typing until you get to the hundred and first option.
10. EXPLORE THE RESOURCES
Imagine there was nothing stopping you from achieving the ideas you're coming up and you had all the money, time, energy and workforce to achieve them? Now think 'freely', note these ideas. Remember, the restrictions come later when brainstorming, quantity first.
11. GROUP IDEATION
Many heads are always better than just one. Brainstorm in a group, work on the solutions together, encouraging other members of the team to be more creative and daring. Beware of 'group think' though, a case where dominant personalities are loudest and shy and more introvert personalities tend to be quiet. This isn't good for ideation sessions, as some great ideas are lost when some team members don't feel comfortable enough to share.
12. PLAY THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE
Set the challenger and pose challenging questions as if from a harsh critic. Challenge every assumption. This comes a little later after a large number of ideas have been collected. As your team reduces to the few quality ideas, open up the team to critic different ideas to test how feasible they will be in executed.
Imagine the project was happening in a different place or country, how would your ideas take shape?
14. DRIVER ANALYSIS
How can you magnify the drivers and motivating factors of your goals while eliminating the opposing points? Understanding the unique reasons, motivation and emotional drivers behind your overall goal can help your team have a clearer perspective on the project, hence creating ideas that are fueled by these drivers while cutting off areas that don't drive the goal of your project.
15. FILL IN THE GAP
Identify where you are currently (Point A) and your destination (Point B). What gaps exist between A and B? What do you need to do to fill these gaps? List them out and find ways you can go about filling the gaps.
16. COPYING IS NOT A CRIME
It is not a taboo to 'borrow' ideas from other sources during the brainstorming session. In fact, a great innovation tactic is taking ideas that have worked in different industries and see how they could take form in the industry or the space you're ideating on.
17. TAKE BREAKS
It is impossible to come up with good ideas if the brain is tired. During a really long session, it is helpful to take relaxing breaks for a couple minutes or even for some hours or till the next day. When you get back, the session will be more energetic and productive.
18. PLAY WORD GAMES
Use emotional and powerful words that represent the goal you are trying to achieve, this will help your team picture different scenarios and generate better ideas that embody the desired goal of your project. These word games help you to capture the character, and personality behind the message you want to share with the world. Don’t worry if it sounds crazy at first.
19. CREATE A SWOT ANALYSIS
Analyze the strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities relating to your projects in order to help you identify the important tasks you need to fulfill and help you come up with the best ideas.
20. USE THE MEDICI EFFECT
The Medici effect is an innovation classic that explores why the most powerful innovation happens at the intersection where ideas and concepts from diverse industries, cultures, and disciplines collide. Ideas can be unrelated or intersecting from different fields and industries, the goal is to find the intersecting point, see what is working effectively for the other guys and how these ideas can work for you as well too.
Also check out this post: The Process of Ideation And It's Importance To Your Business
Brainstorming should be an invigorating and exciting part of the creative process in your projects. With the right approach, it doesn’t have to be difficult.
QUICK TIP: One major setback teams face after a brainstorming session is having so many ideas and not knowing what to do with them or even how to pick out the winning one. Make sure to set criteria in place to help your team determine the best idea(s) to implement.
BONUS: Use the effort-impact scale innovation tool to select the best idea to implement from your brainstorming session, based on your team's resources. This tool helps you save time and prioritize on activities that can help you use your resources efficiently. You can download it for free at Dodo's Tools Page
Be sure to tell us your experience in the comments, when you try any of these 20 techniques.
What other brainstorming techniques do you know and use that have been very effective for you? Kindly share it with us in the comments.