Brainstorming is often touted as the best process to come up with innovative ideas for any project. This technique can be utilized in a variety of situations like writing an article, coming up with campaign ideas, initiating a new project or designing a marketing strategy. Brainstorming is fairly easy once you have the basics down. There are certain techniques that can make the process easier for beginners. You just have to turn off your critical mind. Though there is no definite formation one has to follow and people can go about it the way they want to, for beginners it is generally recommended that they follow a loose structure just to get them started.
Magic of Brainstorming
The primary purpose of brainstorming is employing the natural way of thinking every human has. The human mind creates innovative ideas by adapting, building on and remolding ideas which already exist. A new idea could not have come into your mind if you haven’t thought about an existing one. You may even think up certain ideas which you probably think are really dumb, but these ideas can lead to better and successful ideas. That is the beauty of brainstorming. It is all about creativity. You keep coming up different ideas and jotting them down. Some ideas that may seem brilliant to you may actually sound dumb later, while some not-so-great ideas may later seem the greatest ideas.
Brainstorming Strategies for Beginners
As stated before, there is no formal framework to follow when it comes to brainstorming. However there are certain strategies that can be used in order to make a brainstorming session more productive. Here are a few strategies:
- Make the brain storming session fun. Gather 8-10 people in a closed room. Order cookies and coffees for everyone to enjoy while they go through different ideas.
- Use a big board to highlight ideas. Nominate a facilitator or a leader who will manage the session. Make sure that person can keep the environment positive and upbeat. They will make the rules which are normally as follows:
- Only speak when your turn comes,
- Do not reject or criticize any idea,
- All ideas are good no matter how bad or bland they may seem to you.
- Whatever idea comes must be penned down as it is. There is no need to modify it or change it in any way. No idea can be discussed until it is time to review.
- Each person gets 5-10 seconds to give their idea or else pass their turn to the next person. However, it should be encouraged that instead of saying pass, one should give any ridiculous that comes in their head that moment. Even seemingly ridiculous ideas can be converted into a great one by someone.
- If someone comes up with an idea when it is not their turn, they should just right it down and wait their turn instead of interrupting anyone.
- Long comments must not be allowed. It is okay to speak out their agreement or show enthusiasm towards an idea because the mood has to be casual and fun. Negative or detailed comments should be refrained from.
- Usually, beginners don’t get this right. They start discussing an idea they like or start criticizing an idea. This destroys the whole purpose of brainstorming. If such a thing happens, it is the job of the leader to gently remind them that their part in the discussion will come later. They will probably have to keep reminding them after every few minutes the first few times.
- Afterwards, the leader will announce the ‘ad hoc mode’ which means that anyone can convey their ideas in whatever order they want to. These ideas must also be written down without discussing them.
- Keep on going for a few more minutes or until everyone is done with their ideas. It is possible once the leader announces the end of brainstorming; some individuals may want to add more ideas. Simply allow them 5 seconds to finish up.
This is the brainstorming session. In the end, you will have a long list full of ideas. Some may be good, some not so much, and some plain ridiculous. However, you may be able to find some ideas that are really good or some that can be worked on to make them better. You will be able to find a gem within those ideas or will manage to think up a gem through one of those ideas.
What Happens After Brainstorming?
- After the brainstorming session, the first thing to do is get the idea list organized. Keep the ones that you think are workable and discard those ideas that will be useless. This can also be done in a group as you may want to clarify a few points from people who gave those ideas.
- After sorting and discarding ideas from the list, you must select the best ideas that can work effectively. The significant steps that must be done to work out those ideas must be outlined. You must also think about the possible pros and cons of those ideas. This way, you may discard some more ideas if the cons far outweigh the pros.
- Make sure you do this with the same group and ask them about their opinion. It is possible that someone may come up with effective solutions for the cons and the idea you were about to discard may not seem useless anymore.
Brainstorming sessions are not supposed to be stressful or difficult. They are supposed to be productive and fun. However, it is important to follow some of the rules like no discussions on ideas. This will save time and energy of the group. It is also vital that the leader or facilitator must be unbiased and write all the ideas down no matter how useless they seem to him/her. Remember, you can do anything while brainstorming. Don’t be afraid to come up with something wacky; every idea has merit; every idea, no matter how ridiculous, has the potential to lead to better ones.