Regardless of what you do for a living, you’ve likely found yourself needing to brainstorm at one time or another. As most of us can attest to, when you sit down with the intention of thinking up some fabulous ideas, they inevitably don’t come to you the way you’ve planned. Nothing stifles creativity like expectation of creativity, right? So the next time you’re in need of ideas, fear not – we’ve come up with a plan to supercharge your brainstorming session. Whether you’re a teacher encouraging creative writing with your students or a business trying to reach your customers, these fun tips can get your ideas moving.
Supercharge your brainstorming
- Define objectives: Ensure that everyone involved in brainstorming is clear on the desired outcome. This is especially true if you’re trying to brainstorm by yourself, when you’re less likely to set clear goals than if you’re working in a group.
- Prepare individually: When brainstorming with a group, have each member of the group brainstorm on their own before bringing the group together. This will enable shy folks to get their thoughts heard, and help prevent the derailment of new ideas by getting stuck on the first or second thing the group comes up with together.
- Assemble the group: Once the individual brainstorm has happened, get the group together to share ideas, build on them, and come up with new ideas together.
- Don’t elect a leader: While it seem useful to have a group leader, having someone that guides the discussion may inadvertently lead people to favor those ideas more than others that are presented. Outgoing individuals and/or bosses/supervisors/teachers are generally more likely to lead a discussion, so deferring to the actual group rather than an individual ensures that all ideas are heard.
- Encourage creativity: What’s brainstorming without a touch of creativity? See below for some group activities that will encourage creativity in your brainstorming sessions.
- Identify next steps: Don’t just leave a brainstorming session once good ideas have been identified – ensure everyone knows what the next steps are and the responsible parties. Too often brainstorming produces good ideas that end up not being implemented due to lack of planning on how to move forward.
Encouraging creativity in brainstorming
- Passing Notes: Each person writes their ideas on paper for a specified amount of time (2-3 mins), then passes the paper to the person to their right, who then adds their ideas. Papers are passed until everyone has their original papers back.
- Role Playing: Take on different ‘roles’ to bring a variety of different perspectives on an issue to light.
- Bad Ideas: Pick the worst ideas that you can think of to address the issue at hand. Work backwards from there.
- Play A Game: It doesn’t matter if it is Pictionary or Charades, Legos, or something else. Creativity is fostered during hands-on and game play, so leverage that!
- Random Ideas: Each person picks 1-2 random words + puts them in a hat. The papers are drawn one at a time and the words are used to spark conversation.
- Starbursting: Generate questions (worry about answers later). Start with the Who/What/When/Why/Where/How, but don’t limit yourself to just those.