Work groups and teams often use brainstorming as a way to find solutions. This is because new ideas can arise when people allow their imagination free rein and let themselves be inspired by other peoples input. Brainstorming is a free and playful exercise where the critical element is openness.
Brainstorming is usually carried out in a group with people interacting and creating as many ideas as possible, but you can also brainstorm alone.
There are many tools around that can help in the brainstorming process. This section of INNOTOUR guides you find tools that can facilitate innovation.
- Use your senses
- Think anti-solutions
- Keeping asking why
- Act childish
- Role storming
- Brain writing
- Mind mapping
A step-by-step guide to group brainstorming
- The best way for any group to start a brainstorming session is to sit in a circle and take turns thinking of a solution to the problem at hand. (Someone should be writing these down) To do this, the problem must be defined in very broad terms.
- If the group wants to think of a new way to package potato chips, the leader of the group should maybe ask the group of ways to wrap things. Ask them how they would wrap presents or care packages. Another example of thinking creatively can be by combining two things that are totally unrelated.
- If the group was trying to come up with a new advertising campaign for potato chips, maybe they should define the problem as how make a better potato chip or even how a dog feels about potato chips.
- Keep going around the circle until no one can think of anything new. (It is a good idea to keep a pencil and a pad of paper nearby so that you can write down an idea that you get while it is someone else’s turn.)
- After everyone has exhausted their creativity, start discussing the ideas one by one.
- Do not discard any idea. (All criticism and evaluation should wait until after the brainstorming session has ended.)
- After you have discussed every idea, take a fifteen or twenty minute break. Hurrying will hinder creativity. The brain needs time for the incubation of a creative idea.
- Ask the original question again and begin trying to come up with more new ideas. (Keep in mind that the combining of ideas should be encouraged.)
- We must remember that the quantity of a multitude of diverse ideas is much more important that the quality of the ideas during a brainstorming session.
- Explain to the members of the group that the more wild, unusual, and mind boggling the ideas the better!