Successful people don’t wait for ideas: they pay attention and constantly think of new ones. There is no limit to how creative you can be! Everyone has the ability to think of new, exciting ideas, just take the time to do so. Many techniques help you to facilitate this process, and there are some brainstorming hacks to help you do this quick and efficiently . 

Would you like to find out how to generate more and more ideas in a group or even by yourself? Would you like to feel like a part of your team or to encourage your colleagues to freely express their ideas? Read this article and find out how to make this happen!

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What Exactly Does Brainstorming Mean and How Does It Work?

The Cambridge Dictionary defines brainstorming as a method for generating new ideas through a discussion in which a group of people makes several suggestions. They choose then the best ideas for further contemplation.

Basically, it is a problem-solving method in which the group shares spontaneously creative ideas and solutions. The goal is not to make a decision, but to suggest  opinions for consideration.

The host begins by outlining the topic or problem. As brainstorming sessions should spur spontaneous creativity, many experts advise against presenting the topic in advance.

Then, the host will organise the group and solicit any suggestions. Any ideas, even the wildest ones, will be pitched at this point. The host often set the length of a brainstorming session, and at the end, the group discuss the ideas. They debate and take into account each suggestion. In the end, the members will create a final list which ranks the possible solutions to the problem from best to worst. 

What Is the Main Purpose of Brainstorming?

Before we explain what brainstorming is, let’s find out where it came from. 

Alex Faickney Osborn created the idea of brainstorming in 1942 while he worked at his advertising agency, BBDO. The purpose of the first brainstorming process was to generate fresh ideas without judging any previous ones. All participants were encouraged to actively participate, and unexpected ideas were appreciated and expanded upon, enabling Osborn’s team to produce a wide range of innovative solutions. 

Today, the same principles guide brainstorming sessions. All participants should actively participate. Additionally, brainstorming draws on the unique experiences of team members, broadening the range of concepts discussed.

Advantages of Using Brainstorming

  1. Fosters a sense of belonging amongst group members
  2. Encourages members to think outside of the box and provide holistic solutions
  3. Improves teamwork and helps to get the input of the group
  4. You can use it without any technological tools
  5. Encourages open and ongoing collaboration to solve problems and generate innovative ideas that can become reality.

Brainstorming Stumbling Blocks

  1. There should be a moderator to keep participants on task. The presenter will also determine each participant’s tasks (such as who records all thoughts) and balance the flow of ideas (everyone should speak, there are no dominators) 
  2. Works best with a small group size (ideally not more than 12 people) 
  3. Somebody might be disappointed that their ideas were not taken into consideration  after the ideas are ranked.

Types of Brainstorming

We can distinguish three types of brainstorming:

Verbal Brainstorming

The verbal brainstorming technique involves four steps: preparation, welcoming the team, generating, and analysing ideas. The first two are designed to introduce the topic and the rules to the team. Then, participants offer solutions and write them down. Lastly, the host asks participants to provide feedback on ideas one by one, so that the group can eliminate non-feasible ideas.

Nominal Group Technique

NGB (Nominal Group Brainstorming) requires a few more stages than verbal brainstorming. Following the idea-generating process, each idea is graded and sorted, and only the best ones are discussed in depth. Sorting is the process of eliminating redundant information and merging related ideas. The team members then privately rank the ideas from one to ten as the next stage. They pick the top three concepts and explore them in further detail. 

Electronic

Electronic brainstorming is fairly common these days. This method presupposes the usage of computers and cell phones. Actually, the only distinction between it and the first two is that ideas are exchanged online.

Brainstorming Guidelines

Like many other methods, brainstorming has specific guidelines.

Any Idea Is Appreciated

People are more open to sharing ideas that they would normally reject as irrelevant when the goal is to gather as many thoughts as possible. 

Criticism Is Not Accepted

Instead of criticizing, brainstorming focuses on idea generation. People can express their views more freely because they don’t receive immediate feedback. 

A Non-aggressive Attitude

Without respect for one another, brainstorming is impossible. The host should emphasize that disagreements are reasonable and respectful. 

Included Visuals

There are various whiteboard graphics available online that make it simple and quick to organize and classify ideas. Visualization aids in both comprehension improvement and repetition prevention.

Brainstorming Techniques

Just as there are many learning styles and preferred workflows, there are a number of different brainstorming techniques. You should choose the one that works best for you. 

Five-factor Analysis

This approach is renowned for dealing with the problem from its source. It consists of five “Why?” questions, each of which being followed by the previous question’s response. 

Starbursting 

This method is somewhat similar to the one before it, but in this case, the questions are specific: who, what, where, when, why, and how. The central concept is in the middle of the star diagram, and the participants develop a series of questions around it.

Brainwriting 

Each group member should write down various ideas on cards in an anonymous manner. Keeping contributions secret helps to avoid personality conflicts and gives introverts a chance to participate. 

Gap Filling 

To perform gap filling, also known as gap analysis, you must first identify your present state and your end goal.Then, your team will look for gaps between the two states, asking, “How do we move from here to there?”

Brain-netting 

The progress of digitization has led to the popularity of this technique. Participants in brain-netting use online collaboration tools to discuss ideas in real-time and have the option of saving those ideas to a cloud-based platform or to the collaboration tool itself.

Quick Inspiration 

Rapid ideation makes use of Parkinson’s Law, which states that work expands to take up all the available time. Team managers can increase output and outcomes by giving team members a certain amount of time to offer as many ideas or solutions as they can. 

SWOT Evaluation 

This is a strategic planning exercise rather than just a brainstorming approach. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. This method is mostly employed as a summary tool to evaluate the top ranked ideas. By bringing to mind the actual threats and weaknesses that must be controlled, SWOT is effective in problem-solving and planning. 

Free Tools That Are Basically Brainstorming Hacks

Looking for a way to summarize the results of a brainstorming session? We have listed below some of the most common brainstorming tools.

Google Documents

Simply start a new document and distribute it to your team. Everyone is then free to post their ideas and remark on those posted by other members. 

IdeaBoardz

A great tool for team collaboration is IdeaBoardz. It enables teams to collectively generate ideas, receive feedback, and reflect on the session. Both within and outside the office, it can facilitate ideation, social knowledge production, communication, and collaboration. 

WiseMapping

A free web-based mind map project is WiseMapping. It allows for collaboration and  sharing the mind map with a team, but also enables solitary brainstorming.

That’s a Wrap on Brainstorming Hacks

Brainstorming sessions can be an effective method for promoting authentic cooperation and communication. We hope these points will be useful for you, and you’ll use them effectively to achieve more and more success in the future. 

About the author
EWOR Team

EWOR is a school conceived by Europe’s top professors, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders. We educate and mentor young innovators to launch successful businesses.

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