10 CREATIVE WAYS TO BRAINSTORM IDEAS
Creative brainstorming is used in many different scenarios in the commercial world. The following tips and exercises will help teams and individuals to strategize their thinking into an effective and collaborative way.
It is true that two brains are better than one and when it comes to brainstorming ideas, this is exactly the case. Often, creative thinkers are happy being on their own and forming their own ideas, but there is a risk that ideas can become stagnant and lack that creative edge to remain relevant against competitors. Having regular connections with people is key to maintaining the flow of creativity. It is highly beneficial to bounce ideas off each other and generate as many thoughts as possible no matter how “out there” they may seem. Having a meeting/brainstorming session with others means you can review ideas there and then, combine them or use them as inspiration. This works great as a team building exercise especially as more businesses are opting to work remotely and may miss the connections from the workplace.
Organising and scheduling a brainstorming session at a time when everyone in the department can make is an achievement. So, asking individuals to submit their own ideas is a great way to collate everyone’s thoughts. It also helps those quieter individuals who may not want to speak up in front of everyone – but who still have great ideas!
The process of simply getting your ideas down on paper allows your brain that extra capacity for thinking rather than having to remember all the ideas you thought of in the last hour. A mind map helps to organise these ideas into a structured form, that all participants can understand and ultimately contribute to. Starting with the main goal in the centre, layers are added along with your ideas around the point in a spider web shape. Adding related points to the same branches and allowing for new ideas to form around the points already there is a great way to develop the thinking process and understand why and how an idea may work. This is great for the visual learners who need an organised way to see ideas.
One way to ensure you have ideas in the pipeline for every eventuality, is to think of the different scenarios that could occur, and how you would respond to them. These can be good or bad events, such as planning for the next world cup or how you would respond to a bad PR stunt. No one wants to think about the worst possible thing that can happen, but contingency planning can be a business’s biggest lifeline should an eventuality take place. Ask yourself “how would we respond in this situation?” This allows you to form reasonable judgements and make well informed decisions ahead of time as often we jump to conclusions or do not make the best decisions in the heat of the moments. As always, we cannot predict every situation that may occur, but having contingencies in place for the key eventualities will improve your future success.
Think about where you would like to be.
Goals, brand image and competitors all add up to form the basis of what is it you are trying to achieve. Ideas can come from what everyone around you is doing, and tailoring these ideas so suit your business needs is the best form of staying relevant and current in the market.
An age-old technique for assessing the internal and external capabilities of a business. You simply create a grid with four boxes and fill in the information under each section. Strengths and weaknesses down one side and opportunities and threats along the other. There are loads of templates available online for this too. This method helps to offer solutions and ideas by filling in the gaps where strengths can be taken advantage of and prevent threats by addressing them and dealing with them. This is a great tool to use as a department as it allows you to identity and understand your current position in the market. Identifying your opportunities allows a business to see where its next move could be and put a plan in place to improve on your weaknesses.
You may have all heard of the 5 W’s (Where, When, What, When and Why) but the 5 Whys asks you to take a deeper look into the ideas, finding solutions to meet the goal. An example of this might be that a colleague suggests the idea that “we need to increase our social media following!” This technique encourages you to ask, “why?” and doing so multiple times means you get to the root of the problem.
Google or Teams Shared Docs
Online documents that are saved to a shared server or on a cloud platform are a great way to have collaborative brainstorming sessions whilst working remotely. It is a way to edit and work on one document as a team but without the need for everyone to be in the same room. Everyone can logon individually but unlike waiting for the meeting minutes to be sent through at the ned of the day, the documents updates can be viewed instantly – aiding and speeding up the creative process. It allows teams to work collaboratively in a safe way.
Put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
The biggest take away any creative mind can have, is to look at the bigger picture and see the idea as a whole. Imagine yourself as the client or consumer in the situation and assess what it is they would be looking for. The useability side of an idea often gets overlooked, so imagining what it would be like to use the end product is a great way to ensure what you are producing is for the right reasons – and do not be afraid to get people in the office to test it out!
Timed Rapid Ideation
This final method is a great way to ensure everyone involved has an input and one way to do that is by writing down as many ideas down as you can within a set amount of time. The shorter the better in terms of this as often the best ideas come when you have nothing holding you back. Set a timer for 2 minutes and see how many you can come up with. Avoiding ideas getting shot down before they have had time to grow and develop is also a huge benefit of this way of working.
Let us know how you get on at your next brainstorming meeting!