Five proven brainstorming methods
Since brainstorming was created, there have been numerous strategies, books, lectures and an entire mini-industry of thought leaders offering their specific tools for the task. Whose method is the best? You don’t need to be overwhelmed with opinions and deep Google searches if you follow the basics. After this, you’ll discover what works best for your team, or as an individual, and adjust to bring out the best ideas.
Start with a clear explanation of what you’re trying to achieve, the problem itself, and build the brainstorm from there with these effective techniques:
These are graphic representations of information. They are much freer than the linear method of note-taking and let the group / you illustrate your ideas onto a blank page. Keep the main idea at the center of your “map” and branch out related thoughts in multiple directions. All roads lead back to the central point.
Basically, mind mapping is an attempt to structure information similar to resembling how your brain functions. It’s an activity that is easy to achieve and invites spontaneity and a sense of play to activate your cognitive reflexes.
In addition to a simple white-board, you can also employ specialized software to help you along such as MindMapper and StormBoard.
While vertical thinking is considered logical, lateral thinking is a counterpoint technique to really shake things up. Out-of-the-box stimulation is a deliberate process to disrupt linear thought patterns. Free association is part of the lateral thinking strategy.
In the 1960s, the inventor of Lateral Thinking, creative psychologist Edward de Bono, defined this through four main points:
The recognition of dominant polarizing ideas
The search for different ways of looking at things
A relaxation of the rigid control of vertical thinking
The use of chance
Lateral thinking helps you unlock the patterns of your usual problem-solving mind by employing randomness and inviting chance. From there, the group can build on thoughts and ideas that might have never come up in the dominant paradigm of the vertically minded. A wider range of possibilities opens up to the previously blocked thought process.
This technique is ideal for a group setting in which it seems obvious that one or two people are most likely to dominate the session, thus limiting the amount of progress. It’s an easy method to encourage all members to contribute on an individual level first. You’ll wind up with a broader amount of ideas and those group members prone to sit back or susceptible to blocking will have their time to contribute.
Follow this simple Stepladder process for success:
Present the issue at hand prior to the brainstorming session. This will allow all team members to think about the problem on their own first.
Have a small group of 2 or 3 get together to discuss the problem to be solved.
Add another member of the group to the session to present their concepts before discussing the already ongoing meeting. Everyone then discusses together.
Repeat the process by adding a new member.
Once everyone has been added by this process, only then discuss as a whole and integrate and brainstorm the new ideas.
The AIDA Formula
Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action
AIDA is a tried and true formula used throughout the advertising world and it can work for your brainstorming too, no matter what line of business you’re in. Being one of the most logical methods for coming up with ideas, it’s basis lies in simple human nature to capture an audience’s attention and bring them to a call to action.
A – Attention
Start off strong, don’t save your best content for the end.
I – Interest
Dive into the details and show your audience why your product is different. Make it interesting, and give a lot of information.
D – Desire
Once you’ve got their interest, prove your case with reviews, trusted reliability, and enthusiasm.
A – Action
The big call to action, make it easy for your customers to complete the process and order your product. Give all the practical information necessary in a clear and concise manner, including incentives such as discounts and promotional codes.
Another form of brainstorming invented in the 1960s, Brainwriting is a group activity where 6 people come up with 3 ideas in 5 minutes. It’s a fast way to stimulate idea generation and powerful group session method.
The method is simple and easy to follow:
Every team member writes down 3 ideas within 5 minutes.
Without discussing the ideas yet, the worksheets are passed to the next person and that person then builds on these ideas to create 3 new ones.
The process duplicates until there have been 6 rounds of passing worksheets over to the next team member, etc.
With the end results, the group then discusses the ideas generated and begins the process of discussion and editing.
The ‘idea passing’ has the power to inspire other team members who might otherwise have been creatively blocked.