Brainstorming is a technique to generate new ideas for problem-solving. It typically comprises a group directed by a facilitator. Brainstorming’s strength relates to potential participants who can think freely and provide wider solutions for any issues. Brainstorming involves a stress-free and easy tactic for problem-solving with the help of lateral thinking.
It provides a chance and encourages people to derive new opinions and ideas, sometimes may feel silly at the initial stage. These ideas could be fashioned into innovative and unique solutions to a specific problem and at the same time can provide a way to trigger more new ideas. This also gives people to think out of the box. Hence, it is always taken care of that during any brainstorming session, criticism or appreciation in any form of new ideas is not seen.
You just try to expose people to various possibilities of solutions and to interrupt any norms around the problems. Involving any decision and investigate at this stage would limit creativity and idea generation. Evaluation of ideas should take place at the session end. Then, explore various solutions with predictable approaches.
The main purpose of brainstorming
Indeed, brainstorming benefits are several. Few of them are:
- It creates contribution, obligation, devotion, and interest among people to come up with new ideas.
- It inspires and solves people’s imagination.
- It helps people to build confidence as they would be participative.
- It creates a better room for collaboration.
- It inspires better communication and bonds with people.
- The most highlight is that the participants with come up with many new ideas and at times these ideas would help in the business direction that leads to better profit.
- It helps to find a solution to a specific issue.
Brainstorming can be done either individually or in groups.
1. Group Brainstorming
This brainstorming is a way where many people meet and share thoughts on any issues. In this model, you would be able to take the benefit of all team member’s complete experience and their creativity. The ideas of each team member can work one after the other. A Group brainstorming platform can trigger new ideas to a greater depth. Few advantages of group brainstorming are:
- All participant of the session would feel that their contribution has been valued and taken
- It creates a team-building activity
- Each participant would be from various disciplines that could create a more interactive and creative session
- It produces a positive snowball effect
- It bonds a team
- It triggers creative thinking
2. Individual Brainstorming
Group brainstorming is more effective for idea generation, but various studies have revealed that individual brainstorming triggers better ideas than group brainstorming. This may be because while in a group the participants might not adhere to the brainstorming rules and differences of behaviors would be seen. Sometimes, when each participant exhibits their ideas, some might hesitate to let go of theirs or tend to forget.
This situation rises to what is called ‘blocking’. In the case of individual brainstorming, you need not worry about co-participant as what they would think, etc. You can be free and exhibit your creativity without any hesitation. Some participants might hesitate to showcase their ideas in a group and might feel good to do so while they are alone.
Few advantages of individual brainstorming are
- It tends to produce a wider range of ideas without any hesitation
- Individuals can be free to showcase their creativity, not fearing any criticism
- More effective for a simple problem
Let us discuss the various brainstorming techniques for idea generation. It comes under five main techniques and tries to the best fit for your requirements.
The five main techniques are
- Analytic Brainstorming
- Quiet Brainstorming
- Role Play Brainstorming
- Brainstorming with support
- Radically Creative Brainstorming
1. Analytic Brainstorming
As you are aware that, brainstorming concentrates on problem-solving for problem analyzing using various tools that would lead to generate creative solutions. Analytic brainstorming is comfortable for many people as it coolly triggers idea generation skills that would have been formed in school and the workplace. The following methods are various types of analytic brainstorming:
- Mind Mapping – This is a visual tool to increase the entire process. You draw an image of your ideas. List down your goal or challenge and participant should focus on related issues. As the ideas come up, list down the content layer by layer to visually check how it works.
- Reverse Brainstorming – Regular brainstorming requests participants for problem-solving, whereas reverse brainstorming requests participants to find out unique ways to cause a problem. It trains people to come up with ways to initiate a problem and find out ways to cause this. Once you have many ways to create problems, you can start to solve them.
- Gap filling – The current situation needs to be the place to kick start. Then, the goal statement is to be written. After this, you should further analyze the various ways to fill the gap to reach the goal. The participants would be able to respond to many answers. These answers could be collected in one place, organize it and then develop an image for action.
- Drivers Analysis – Find out the drivers responsible for the problem that you are solving it. Get to groups to find this out. Analyze the following points:
- What is lacking to get the client’s loyalty down?
- What is pushing the competition?
- What is the cause of lower productivity?
As and when you discover the drivers, you would get an idea to solve it.
5. SWOT Analysis – This is a popular analysis to help an organization to find out its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This analysis helps to resolve whether a possible project is good to take. This brainstorming helps to inspire collaborative analysis.
2. Quiet Brainstorming
Yet another technique of brainstorming is the Quiet Brainstorming. Sometimes, an individual may not be having time for brainstorming. Or in some cases, group members might not be interested to speak or express their ideas thinking that others might not like or appreciate it.
For this scenario, you need to take out ideas from the participants without meeting or any public involvement. The following methods are various types of Quiet Brainstorming:
- Online Brainstorming – This is also called brain netting and involves the brainstorming process over the internet. A system should be in place and the participant would be able to share their ideals secretly and cooperate publicly. Various software that can be used for this purpose is Google Docs, Slacks, etc. Once the idea is formed, the participants can meet in person if required. This is an ideal approach for remote teams.
- Slip Writing – This is also called brainwriting where every participant namelessly writes their ideas on index cards. The cards are then shared with other participants who can add to it. These ideas put in one place and given to the management team to scrutinize it.
- Collaborative Brainwriting – This is a unique brainstorming technique where the participants can write any concerns or questions on a big paper and have them in a public place. Other team members can add to the ideas over some days. Organize the ideas.
3. Role Play Brainstorming
For a successful business, you should think from the client’s angle. What do the clients expect from you? To answer these questions, role-play has a huge impact. Roleplay provides a platform where your team members could become your client that would help you to find out may challenges and solutions.
This type of activity also helps to lower participant’s shyness. The following methods are various types of Role Play Brainstorming:
1. Role Storming – This session works the following way:
- Request each of your participants to visualize themselves as a client or service provider, or any upper management.
- Ask them to take each point of view.
- Analyse as to what would be the reason for any dissatisfaction.
- Find out what would make them feel better.
- Find out unique ways to come up with ideas.
2. Reverse Thinking – This is yet another approach to role-playing. This is a creative approach that asks you to find out what you would do in other’s situation. Then perform in the opposite way as whether it would work out. Analyze why or why not the situation.
3. Figure Storming – Choose any figure where everyone is familiar like for example, Mother Theresa. Find out from the participant the following:
- What would the figure choose to do to accomplish the opportunity challenge that you are in?
- Does the figure’s approach work better than yours?
4. Brainstorming with Support
Sometimes, there might be some groups that are not communicative or creative. They might get stuck once their ideas have been discussed. This could be handled by including a structured process with everyone being involved in it. The following methods are various types of Brainstorming with Support:
1. Step Ladder Brainstorming – This session is conducted in the following way:
- Initiate this session by allotting the brainstorming challenge with all the participants present for the session.
- Request all the participants, except two, to move out of the room to ponder on the challenge.
- The two people in the room should utilize the short time to generate their ideas.
- From those participants went outside, permit one participant to enter the room to share the ideas with the two of them.
- After some time, request another participant to come in and continue the process.
- Over a period, all participants will be back in the room and would have shared their ideas.
2. Round Robin Brainstorming – This is, in fact, a game where everyone would participate. This works the following way:
- Each participant shares an idea one by one.
- When all participants get a chance, then the first would get a chance again.
This type of session would encourage shy people to speak up.
3. Trigger Storming – This is a slight variation to the round-robin activity. This session starts with a trigger that helps people to come with unique ideas. The probable triggers for this would be:
- Open-ended sentence
- Proactive statements
5. Radically Creative Brainstorming
This is an ideal session for those teams who are caught on predictable answers to various brainstorming challenges. You will have to stir them to generate new ideas with the help of various techniques that involve out of the box thinking. The following methods are various types of Radically Creative Brainstorming:
1. Charrette – When there are many people from various domains in one session, it becomes a tough process. Charrette method allows the entire problems to be divided into smaller portions. Small groups discuss each problem element for a specific time.
When each group has addressed one issue, their ideas get transferred to the other group who would work on it and build it up. At the end of this session, each idea would have been analyzed and discussed many times and would have been polished.
- What If Brainstorming – There are various kinds of What If situation. Few of them are listed below:
- What if the issue was an old one?
- How has it been addressed to?
- How to address of any great person is facing such issues?
- How would the great person manage the situation?
- How to manage if the issue is worsened?
These kinds of ‘what if ‘situation that can branch out the radically creative thinking ability among the participant. It can also help people to work together.
Having discussed in detail, brainstorming and its techniques for generating new ideas, it also emerges in various possibilities and develop creative approaches. The outcome would be better when you select the right participant, set the stage properly, and set the discussion accordingly to the issues. It is indeed a tremendous and great technique for idea generation to help businesses.