How To Brainstorm Intelligently and Increase Your Creative Output

Brainstorming is a great way to come up with a lot of ideas that you would not be able to generate by just sitting down with a pen and paper. The intention of brainstorming is to leverage the collective thinking of the group by engaging with each other, listening, and building on each other’s ideas.

The multiplier effect

Brainstorming combines a relaxed, informal approach to problem solving with lateral thinking. It encourages people to come up with thoughts and ideas that might seem a bit crazy. Some of these ideas can be crafted into original, creative solutions to a problem, while others can spark even more ideas.

It has been demonstrated that searching for creative ideas in an interactive, informal group process not only generates more ideas, but generates better ideas than the ones that individuals produce while working independently. Brainstorming in a group gives participants the opportunity to make suggestions on a certain subject, and to take advantage of the creative capacity of the participants.

Brainstorming has a multiplier effect because it looks for the combination of ideas and their improvements. In addition to contributing their own ideas, participants can suggest improvements to other’s ideas, or get a better idea by combining ideas. Sometimes, changing just one aspect of an impractical solution can make it a great solution.

How To Brainstorm Intelligently and Increase Your Creative Output

If more than ten participants have been invited to the session, break the group into smaller teams and have each team brainstorm the issue. Smaller teams remove some of the formality and make people feel more at ease. Remember that feeling comfortable means sharing more ideas.

If you are conducting a brainstorming session, you can stand in front of a whiteboard or sit around a table, but make sure you are taking an active posture of standing or sitting upright.

There are several ways to capture the ideas of a brainstorming session:

Scribe: The scribe visually and legibly captures ideas that team members call out on the board. It is very important to capture every idea, regardless of your own feelings about each idea.

All-in: Each person writes down each idea as it comes, and verbally shares it with the group. It is great to do this with post-it notes, so you can write down your idea and then stick it on the board.

Brainstorming rules

Here are some rules recommended by Stanford University to improve productivity when conducting a brainstorming activity. I have already tried them and I can say that results of brainstorming sessions improve considerably when following them!

Defer judgement: Do not block ideas. Consider the ideas of others even if you do not like them. Maybe you or someone else will be able to build on it later.

One conversation at a time: It is important that every brainstorming team member be focused, listening to and building on other members’ ideas in order to improve the multiplier effect.

Be visual: Sketch your ideas for your teammates. Words do not communicate as well as an idea written on a whiteboard. By communicating visually you might inspire some new ideas.

Headline: Explain each idea accurately before moving on to the next idea. When all the members have interpreted the idea, move on to the next one.

Go for quantity: In a brainstorming session, the more ideas there are, the better the results. When starting a meeting, try setting a target number for new ideas.

Build on ideas from others: This leverages the perspectives of diverse teams and can be especially useful when you feel like you’re stuck.

Encourage wild ideas: Sometimes ideas may seem crazy, but they also can inspire other ideas that come up during the session. You never know where your team might be able to take it.

At Intraway we use brainstorming techniques not only when we must face an innovative project that requires input from each team member, but also when we are looking to align a team, or discover a common goal. Follow and enforce the brainstorming rules, they are intended to increase your creative output!!


References:

“Brainstorming Techniques That Work”. 2004. Effectivemeetings.Com. http://www.effectivemeetings.com/teams/participation/brainstorming.asp.

“Brainstorming: Generating Many Radical, Creative Ideas”. 2016. Mindtools. https://www.mindtools.com/brainstm.html.

O’Connor, Caroline. 2009. “Rules For Brainstorming”. Stanford University Institute Of Design. http://dschool.stanford.edu/blog/2009/10/12/rules-for-brainstorming/.

“Técnicas De Creatividad”. 2016. Innovaforum.Com. Accessed December 20. http://www.innovaforum.com/tecnica/brain_e.htm.

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