According to Merriam-Webster, brainstorming is a group problem-solving technique that involves the spontaneous contribution of ideas from all members of the group. The first-ever documented brainstorming session happened in 1907. The term was popularized by Alex Faickney Osborn in the 1953 book Applied Imagination. Now we’re excited to share our best practices for successful business brainstorming techniques in 2021 and beyond.
Before you schedule a brainstorming event, get prepared. The more ready you are, the better results you will see.
Being prepared includes:
- Clearly defining the problem the session will address
- Inviting the right people to participate
- Understanding potential roadblocks that lay ahead
- Listing available resources
- Preparing an agenda to keep the brainstorming moving along
- Picking the right date, length, and location
- Establishing an effective way to memorialize the session
Secondly, groupthink is a psychological phenomenon in which people strive for consensus within a group. This is kryptonite to the success of any brainstorming session. The idea is to give everyone the space and respect to have differing opinions. If the goal of the brainstorming session is to inspire a fresh idea or approach, you need new and unexplored ideas.
Embrace Bad Ideas
Certainly, bad ideas play an important role in the brainstorming process. For business brainstorming techniques, it’s best to get lots of the bad ideas out early in the brainstorming session. To do this, you must create a safe space for people to share bad ideas. It’s absolutely appropriate to share ideas you know are bad. And, have fun with it. Who can come up with the worst ideas? You’ll be surprised at what you learn from “bad ideas”. Remember, bad ideas help us get to the great ones.
Focus on Quantity Over Quality
Above all, the most successful brainstorming sessions focus on quantity over quality. This is why spending time on bad ideas is so important. Use your time to discuss as many ideas as possible. This will allow you to make more informed decisions when choosing the most effective and impactful ideas.
Create “Word Storms”
In addition, one of our favorite visual brainstorming activities is the Word Storm. To create one, write down one word that relates to the brainstorm topic. Then, go around the room and ask each participant to say other words that come to mind from that first word. Don’t overthink it, the point of a Word Storm is to free-flow ideas.
Use Brain Netting for Remote Brainstorming
In today’s remote world, it’s important to use techniques that engage remote teams. Remote brainstorming is exactly what it sounds like, brainstorming between people who are in different locations. Using tools like Slack, Zoom, and Google Docs, brain netting allows teams across the state, country, and world to work together. This can include brainstorming techniques from word storms to brain swarming and more.
Another one out of many effective business brainstorming techniques is Brainwriting. This exercise requires participants to write their ideas down rather than saying them out loud. A great exercise to encourage participation from every one, no matter how comfortable they are sharing in a group setting.
Utilize a Trained Facilitator
Indeed, a trained facilitator will ensure you have a fruitful brainstorming session. They know the best techniques for helping participants get the most out of the session. Trained facilitators also act as a neutral third party. Their entire role is to make everyone feel comfortable, safe, and heard as the group shares ideas, provides feedback, and challenges ideas.
Try Brain Swarming
Finally, “brain swarming is a silent method of group ideation, in which participants contribute their ideas through short notes in a structured graphic.” – Dr. Tony McCaffrey, a cognitive psychologist
Have you ever tried brain swarming?
If you are looking to tap into the creative potential of your company, the coaches at Ignite Your Potential are here to help.
Reach out and take advantage of our complimentary 25-minute phone brainstorming session to learn the best business brainstorming techniques. The award-winning coaches at Ignite Your Potential can help you get the very most out of this age-old problem-solving tool.