Coming up with ideas is not difficult. Coming up with good ideas that have long-term feasibility is. Ideas come from everywhere but only teamwork and collaboration make sure that the right ideas come together. Brainstorming or collective thinking can help because the team involved feels energized and looks forward to implementing what they have planned. Effective brainstorming can help firms and on the other hand, if not conducted properly, can leave the team feeling uninspired. Read on to learn some awesome brainstorming techniques in this article!
Techniques to understand stages of Brainstorming
Brainstorming can be divided into 3 stages
- Idea capture
- Idea discussion and critique
- Selection of final concept
To understand these stages in-depth, let us look at the various techniques that one can make use of to effectively brainstorm.
Round Table Idea Writing
This is a nonverbal method that requires everyone to write down around 3 or 4 ideas that are related to the topic they’re discussing. Around 5 to 10 mins should be enough for this procedure. After this, a kind of shuffling may be done wherein one person passes their ideas to either the person on their right or their left. That person, in turn, can add some more unique points and this can go on and on, till the piece of paper makes it back around the table. This way everyone gets a voice and all ideas get captured rather effectively, albeit briefly.
This method requires everyone to jot down as many ideas as possible within a stipulated time period. Do this before any idea is discussed so that no concept is shot down before it can even grow and develop. Rapid ideation gives people the chance to capture their ideas prior to the critique stage. Because many ideas are inevitably shot down, noting them down can be quite useful.
This method also prevents people from prematurely killing their own ideas due to a lack of self-confidence.
This method sees the group pick a person, not in the room. It could be a boss, a public figure, or a fictional character. The point is to see the problem from this 3rd person’s perspective. Like for instance. How would Joe Biden approach a particular problem?
This can also be useful because a person who is a little hesitant about putting forth their ideas in public might be comfortable using an alias.
Also called ‘brain netting’ this method sees each and every team member involved using a digital medium. The advantage of this method is that even people who work remotely can contribute solidly. A central location for your team members to jot down ideas will help. Even if your employees aren’t in the same time zone, you can fix a common slot and use an app like Slack to pursue ideas. Even a simple Google Doc which everyone can access can serve as a common company-wide notepad of sorts for certain ideas, whenever staff feels inspired. This is a great way to capture ideas. You should have separate meetings for discussing and executing the chosen ideas. Remote employees feel included and Digital mediums also allow users to create anonymous usernames if they want to protect their identity.
Round Robin Technique
With this technique, each team member gets a chance to throw an idea into the pool. Even before any idea is examined or critiqued, others may be listed from the rest of the participants. In taking points from each team member in a rapid-fire fashion, this method acts as a sort of figurative hat passed around, with everyone contributing something before the collections are examined.
The Step Ladder Method
The problem with a lot of brainstorming techniques is that the quieter people in the room don’t get a chance to put forth their points. Sometimes, the first few ideas heavily influence the discussion unfairly. The step ladder method sees a facilitator first introduce the topic and dispatch everyone except 2 people from the room. The 2 selected people will brainstorm for a few minutes before being joined by a third person. This person will give their own points and join in the discussion as well. Slowly, individuals will be reintroduced into the room one by one, each sharing their ideas before finding out what else has been discussed.
Teammates outside the room can ponder and write down their points but shouldn’t discuss these with anyone else before being invited into the brainstorming room. This method is highly effective if you have a smaller team. For larger enterprises, different methods will be better suited.
It isn’t always the first idea that comes out that is the best. However, using it as a source, one can come up with 2 or three more ideas. Mind mapping is a technique in which a group begins with a single idea, then uses it as a base to come up with similar ideas or sub-ideas. Think of the central idea as being in the middle of a large spider web, and other ideas emerging forth from it. Mind mapping is great for those who prefer to think visually when it comes to brainstorming.
The Starburst method
A technique that is useful during the later stages, when a group has already decided upon an idea, sees the team begin with the original idea at the center, then create a 6-point star surrounding it. Each point is a question, for example, who is the target audience? What is the best time for a product launch? What was the reason for creating the product? The Starburst idea for brainstorming depends on questions, so as to probe the idea from each angle. The point is to defend the idea, to see whether it stands the test, and then moving forward with all the questions answered. It’s a good way for teams to work on solutions together.
Changing the Playground
Sometimes changing things up works wonders. Take your team out to a casual lunch, or even switch to a different floor in your office building to get new ideas flowing. Being in a different physical space can change how employees think because constantly thinking in the same zone can become quite repetitive and boring. Moving your team to a new space may give them a burst of inspiration, albeit for a short period of time. It could inspire people to think differently.
Also popularly known as gap analysis, this method takes into account your current state, and your end objectives, trying to find gaps between the two states. By asking a very simple question, i.e ‘how do we get from point A to point B’, gap analysis finds problems in your enterprise and helps plug them, using workable solutions. A flowchart can be useful for drawing out a gap analysis. The current state marked on one end, and the ideal state on the other, will be ideal so team members can understand what they are working towards. They can then pitch in ideas that can bridge the gap.
The above brainstorming techniques are pretty capable when it comes to either coming up with a new strategy or solving issues that your company is facing. The most important point to remember is to keep facilitating communication between your team members, and breaking down barriers so that no one hesitates when it comes to putting forth ideas. Read our blog on setting marketing objectives, so the next time you conduct a brainstorming session or are part of one, you know how to round it off by setting the right objectives.