How to Brainstorm

Benefits of applying this knowledge:How to Brainstorm

• Generate lots of new ideas, angles, approaches and solutions.

• Get unstuck at times when you feel blank and “got nothing”.

• When you’ve “got too much”, it can help bring order to all your
thoughts by letting them pour onto the paper to later be arranged.

• “Stirs up the dust” and can create a fresh breeze of inspiration.

• Generates steps for goals and plans.

• Helps you break out of stale, established patterns of thinking.

• Helps you get going on something new when you don’t know where to start.

• Generates lots of possibilities you might otherwise overlook by getting into “structured” planning too early.


Thing to consider about Brainstorming:

• Most problems are not best solved by the first idea that comes to mind. To find the best solution it is wise to consider several possible solutions.

• In general terms, Brainstorming works by focusing on a specific topic and then rapidly coming up with as many potential ideas and solutions as possible within a predefined amount of time.

• The idea of a Brainstorming-session is to make a long list of numerous ideas. Focus on quantity. The assumption is that the larger number of ideas generated, the greater the chance of producing some good ideas among the numerous entries you jot down.
Assume that “quantity will breed quality.”

• Brainstorming is for ideas rather than judgement. Analytical judgement like whether or not to get married should probably not be solved by brainstorming.

• Save any editing, reasoning and prioritizing until after the brainstorming-session.


How to Brainstorm:

• Grab a blank sheet of paper or open a new document on a computer.

• Define the topic / objective:
On the top of this paper, write a short sentence defining the purpose of the brainstorming-session. What you are trying to achieve? Make the sentence a short and to the point question.
Some examples:

   – What would be my greatest desires in life if everything was possible?
   – What can I do to improve our world?
   – What can I do to become healthier?
   – How would I like to be remembered?
   – How can we improve the working-environment in our company?
   – What could be a good name for this new product?
   – How can we get more people to join our club?

• Brainstorming should focus on only one specific and well-defined topic (question) per session.

• Now, decide a time-limit for the session. Somewhere between 2-15 minutes or whatever amount of time you like.
Preferably acquire a stop-watch, a kitchen-timer or set your mobile’s alarm so you are not distracted by having to keep track of time by manually glancing over at a watch.

• Alternatively you can set a “space-limit”. For example, deciding to fill a full page with words before you stop.

• Start the timer and get going. Ask yourself the question at the top of the page and listen to your answers.
Come up with anything related to the topic and scribble it down quickly.

• Write down every thought that floats into your mind when you ask your question.

• Preferably you should write short aid-words, rather than long sentences – creating a kind of bullet-point list of words or short phrases.

•  Do not care at all about spelling or editing or writing neatly. You can edit things later if you like. For now, just scribble away!

• Withhold any criticism. Encourage unusual and odd ideas. Keep your pen moving. By setting aside judgment, your subconscious will feel free to generate unusual ideas. If you accept every thought gracefully, your subconscious will be happy to keep giving you more ideas.

• Keep the pen moving and write down whatever comes into mind even if it feels ridiculous, off topic or like nonsense.

• After the Brainstorming- session has been completed you may choose to have an evaluation-phase where you sort out your best ideas and maybe prioritize and rank them into a clean an ordered list.


Reverse Brainstorming:

• If you still find it hard to come up with ideas using the above Brainstorming technique, there is a workaround for extra tricky situations, that you can try called: “Reversed brainstorming”.

Here is an example:
Instead of writing: “How do we improve customer satisfaction?”
You can try to reverse the statement:”How do we make customers more dissatisfied?”
You may then come up with a list of results like:
   – Increase customers’ waiting-times.
   – Increase customers’ paper-work.
   – Reduce friendliness of staff.

If you then reverse the results (i.e: Decrease waiting-times) you will end up with a list of things generating positive outcomes.

Brainstorming Techniques

Group Brainstorming techniques:

• Even as a group, Brainstorm individually first will be more effective because individuals will be free to explore ideas in their own time without any fear of criticism.

• When you are a group which will make individual Brainstorming; before starting you should point out that the ideas will be handled anonymously when they are collected and presented to the group. This will reduce “performance anxiety”.

• Bring all the resulting ideas together into one large list of ideas, which is shared by the group. During this sharing, new ideas may arise by the association, and they can be added to the map as well. Laughing and fun and silliness is to be encouraged. Criticism is not.

• An alternative Group Brainstorming-technique:
Each individual in a circular group writes down one idea, and then passes the paper to the next person in a clockwise direction. Now this person adds some thoughts, and then the paper is passed again. This is repeated until everybody gets his or her original piece of paper back. Collect the papers as usual and present the ideas anonymously.

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