6 techniques to improve brainstorming
Right at the start of a brainstorming session it’s crucial to generate and gather together as many creative ideas as possible. Quantity matters more than quality at this stage. The use of divergent techniques can help draw out some totally wild ideas. Check out these six motivating ways to boost your brainstorm effectiveness!
1. Random stimulation
Hand out images to the participants. The idea is for each person to make associations between his or her image and the topic of the brainstorm. The images can be passed round a few times so as to continually create a new dynamism. Instead of images, you could use objects, magazines, new trends, pioneering technologies, etc. The possibilities are endless and often lead to some very original ideas.
2. ‘What if’ scenario
Start by thinking of various “what if” scenarios. These can cover a wide range, as in these examples:
- What if there were no laws?
- What if what we’re planning to develop could speak?
- What if it enabled you to fly?
- What if the Internet didn’t exist?
- What if you were asked this question 15 years from now?
These kinds of scenarios definitely stimulate everyone’s creativity and form a fresh starting point, allowing the participants to look anew at the actual problem statement of the brainstorming session.
3. The superhero
Play the part of a superhero of your choice. How would you tackle the problem? What could you do using your superpowers? The concept of superhero may be very broadly interpreted, and can mean something different to each participant. The point of this exercise is for each team member to give full rein to his or her creativity.
4. Put yourself in the shoes of…
Put yourself in the shoes of a child, a guard, a prisoner, the world’s richest man, an astronaut, the mayor, a doctor, a psychologist, and so on. How would they tackle the problem defined in your brainstorming session? Let yourself go and the ideas will flow!
The participants all sit round the table and each takes an A4 sheet of paper. Everyone writes down three ideas that offer a possible answer to the problem statement of the brainstorming session. Then they pass the sheet to the person on their right, who reads it and adds new ideas. The exercise ends when the sheet has gone right round the table. The person who began each sheet selects the five best ideas and writes them on the flip chart.
6. The inverted question
Turn the central question of the brainstorming session around so that the result you want to achieve is the exact opposite of what you had in mind. Then let the participants come up with creative answers to the inverted question. Once all of the ideas have been written down, turn them around again so that they offer an answer to the original problem statement.
Vincent De Coninck (Idea & Innovation Management graduate and ex-intern at Bold & pepper): “Try out all these techniques, but make sure there’s enough variety. That way, you’ll see for yourself which ones work best with your brainstorming team. Personally, I like the ‘What if’ scenario, because it can generate really wild ideas that actually work!”
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