brainstorming techniques

Whatever profession you are in, you are no stranger to the need for brainstorming. To survive in a fiercely competitive industry, your company/business/start-up needs you to come up with innovative ideas that will give you an edge over the others. But, we all hit a rough patch in our careers now and then when ideas seem to dry up (similar to a novelist’s writer’s block). But, don’t worry; there are brainstorming techniques that can help you generate out-of-the-box ideas and turn you into a star employee! These brainstorming techniques can be utilized anytime, not just when you seem to be at a loss for ideas. You can apply them yourself or together with your team. 

Mapping the mind

Can’t give shape to those disparate strands of thoughts flying about in your head? Try mind mapping. This is one of the most effective brainstorming techniques, and it helps you focus your thoughts to make them coherent. What you do is create a flow chart. With a central node, multiple lines in different colours and symbols, you link the ideas together and gently nudge them towards the goal of generating an idea.  

Brainwriting

This idea is similar to free-form idea generation sessions. In these sessions, the team comes together to create ideas off the cuff, and someone notes them down. But with brainwriting, the process is completely individualistic. You sit down in front of your computer or at the table with a pen and paper and generate random ideas. Jot them down even if they seem banal. The very act of purposefully sitting down to create ideas is going to channel all your attention to make the goal materialize. 

Also Read: Unique Ways to Use Design Thinking Stages at Work

Reverse brainstorming

Reverse brainstorming is one of the strangest brainstorming techniques. This is best done in a team setting. Instead of creating ideas, you will come up with probable problems that might plague your company in the future. So, you will have the answers to, what causes the problem, in which situations may a problem arise, what would be its effects, and how would you contain the damage. You would be deconstructing a problem. All of you will become expert problem solvers! And, this will also help you create ideas to solve the problems. 

Fill in the blanks

Among all brainstorming techniques, this one is sure to remind you of your school exams! This is a super-simple but very effective technique. First, you have to write a sentence on a paper that summarises where you are in the idea generation process. Leave a gap, and then write a sentence on the goal of the idea generation session. Now, try to fill the gap. Let all members of your team add their ideas to the gap. This will give you a repertoire of ideas.

SWOT analysis

This is an oldie but goodie when it comes to brainstorming techniques. You can’t go wrong with it. SWOT analysis not only helps generate innovative ideas but also addresses the company’s problems and needs. An analysis of the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats will ensure that you know exactly what is required to make a venture or campaign successful, and you will create better ideas than you would have without the analysis.   

Ask the right question to create the right ideas

If ideas are eluding you, go back to the drawing board. Ask yourself a very particular question that will lead your perspective in the right direction. This is where the 5 Whys come in. Suppose your firm has encountered a problem and you need ideas to help the business tide over the crisis, ask this question – why did this problem arise? You will have a few guesses as to what triggered it. Now, ask the same question 4 more times in succession. At the end of the session, you will have clarity on the situation, and this will open up your mind and help you generate precise ideas.

Also Read: How to Implement Design Thinking steps in your Startup

Situation analysis

Does this sound like one of the most boring brainstorming techniques? Well, it won’t be tedious if you apply the S.C.A.M.P.E.R. method. This acronym stands for –

S – Substitute – swapping X with Y

C – Combine – club X with Y

A – Adapt – can you adapt it when a different scenario arises?

M – Modify – how can you modify something to make it more effective?

P – Putting to some other use – can it have some other purpose too?

E- Eliminate – things that need to be snipped and removed

R – Reverse – can elements of the plan/product be reorganized?

You are looking at the situation/plan/product from multiple angles. This will help you come up with better ideas on how to improve it or market it. 

Random ideas

This is one of the most fun brainstorming techniques for better ideas. You create a pool of words in small bits of paper and put them in a bowl. Now, pick one at random. Pass it around to the different members of the team and ask them what is the first thought or idea that comes to mind associated with that word. This will form a creative repertoire of ideas for the team to assemble, club or discard until you have just the idea you need. 

If you are looking to make your career in a world where ideation rules, then you must join Great Learning’s Stanford Design Thinking : From Insights to Viability Course. It equips you to be coherent thinkers, analyze problems and come up with unique solutions.

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