Sometimes AKA ‘Plan B’, ‘brainstorming’ can be an effective and enjoyable way to come up with ‘out-of-the-box’ ideas, which can eventually lead to innovatively practical solutions.
An article in the April issue of Toastmaster magazine reveals a range of considerations to maximize the effectiveness of this form of brain teasing.
A brainstorming session will encourage creativity and suspend judgement; it usually takes at least ten minutes before the best ideas start to emerge.
However, like any worthwhile strategy, even brainstorming has structural rules of thumb to follow, in order to obtain the best bang for the conceptual buck:
- Outline to participants in advance that this is a process = gathering ideas, setting criteria, then creating an implementation strategy
- Although there is no one right way to proceed, it is important to have ground rules and manage expectations, as well as advise how ideas will be evaluated and be clear about end results
- The key is to record ideas which emerge
- The goal is to allow ideas to fly, departing from conventional thinking, allows insights and inspirations to ‘cross-pollinate’
- Prepare by focusing on the setting: have art, games, etc., around to invite free thinking and fun; consider having lava lamps and beanbag chairs, or an unusual location such as under a tree or in a playground
- Build anticipation via special written invitations, outlining the session tone, expectations, and goals
- Begin the meeting with a physical or mental icebreaker
- The focus should be framed with a challenge question, defining the issue in a clear manner, but with open invitation to multiple ideas
- Each idea should be embraced, with a “Yes, and…” rather than a “Yes, but… approach
- Remind participants to suspend judgement during the session
- Assign a scribe or audio-record the meeting
- Place everyone on an equal footing, free of time or rules restrictions
- Use a contrarian approach to stimulate output
- Play with word play, such as antonyms/synonyms, possibly as a warm-up activity
- Try ‘freewriting’, wherein one writes without editing for ten to fifteen minutes
- Rather than using lined paper in support of linear thoughts, use large tear sheets or even blank paper, to encourage drawing or ‘mapping’ ideas
Perhaps one should really begin by brainstorming which combination of these strategies will inspire the most effective brainstorming results.