Creative Problem Solving – Part 1 – Brainstorming

Whether you’re brainstorming with a group, or by yourself on a blank piece of paper, there are some important tips for getting the most from your brainstorming session.

First, a brief definition: brainstorming is a tool which helps you creatively approach and solve problems and challenges.

The idea of brainstorming is to allow your brain to go to places you normally wouldn’t go – inspiring you to get unstuck from the patterns you normally follow to solve problems.

And in many ways, brainstorming is also a “brain dump” – an attempt to get all those ideas out of your mind and down onto paper.

It helps you to see patterns and make connections in piles of seemingly disorganized information.

When done with a group, it also encourages “buy-in” since everyone feels that they’ve had a chance to participate and their input has been considered.

Tips For Successful Brainstorming

  • Stay relaxed
  • Keep the session informal
  • Go for quantity, not quality
  • Crazy ideas are not only ok, they’re encouraged
  • Write everything down
  • Stay focused on the topic/problem at hand – define it beforehand
  • When brainstorming with a group, encourage participation from everyone
  • When brainstorming with a group, encourage them to do some individual brainstorming on the topic beforehand.

Things to Avoid When Brainstorming

  • Judging or evaluating the ideas. When you do this, it discourages creation of new ideas.
  • Criticism or challenges
  • Analysis – plenty of time for this later
  • Organization – this is counterproductive and not the idea of the brainstorming session.
  • Going down one path too long. The idea is to keep generating new ideas.

During a brainstorming session is not the time to figure out “how” to implement the ideas.

A number of studies have shown that brainstorming alone is more productive (more ideas are generated) than brainstorming in a group. This has to do with a number of factors:
– People feeling safe enough to express wild and crazy ideas
– Time constraints
– Competitiveness

Brainstorming sessions will help you generate new ideas that will lead you to a solution to your problem as well as make you more productive.