Effective Team Brainstorming Techniques

Brainstorming is when you deliberately try to think up new ideas or solutions to problems. In writing whether creative, academic, or business—it’s a beneficial preliminary stage that helps writers know precisely what’s going into their projects. No matter your preferred method, most brainstorming techniques typically have three steps:

Capture ideas, Discuss and critique the ideas and Choose which ideas to execute

Effective brainstorming techniques can help achieve success. On the other hand, when a brainstorm session misses whether it feels unproductive, repetitive, or negative the team may collectively feel uninspired. Some of these factors are unbalanced conversation among extroverted people and inactive ones or awkward silence.  Follow this six-step method to get the best results:

1. Prepare:

An environment conducive to creative thinking is key. First and foremost, you need to set aside time for yourself or schedule a session with your group. Remove all distractions and consider a “no internet” rule until after the session. Last, you’ll need something to write on for collecting your notes. Choose whatever makes you the most comfortable: computer, phone, paper, etc.

2. Capture the main focal points

When it’s time for your actual brainstorming session, first write down your main focal points. For more complicated projects, also write down any subtopics or secondary categories. Brainstorming works best when there’s a clear direction. The more you know what you’re looking for, the easier it is to find it.

3. Figure storming

In figure storming, the group picks a well-known figure who is not in the room it could be a boss or a well-known public figure, and discuss how that person would approach the problem or think about this idea. For example, you might ask: How would Mary approach this problem? It seems like a silly question, but putting yourself in someone else’s shoes can help you and your team approach the problem a different way.

4. Eidetic image method

This visualization-based method recommended by author and psychologist Jacqueline Sussman employs vivid images stored in our minds from all of our life experiences. Begin with intention-setting: Have the group close their eyes and clearly set an intention for what they will create—for example, an innovative smartphone. Each person in the group sets the intention in their mind that they will come up with a new phone design, unlike previous ones. In the end, you can end up with hundreds of new concrete ideas ranging from the color to the features to the size.

5. Online brainstorming, aka brain netting 

For this group brainstorming technique, all you need is a central location for team members to write down their ideas. If all of your employees are in the same time zone, you can host real-time brainstorms over Slack to develop ideas together. If your team is distributed, you can put together a running Google doc that allows team members to write down their ideas whenever inspiration hits.

6. Round-robin brainstorming 

In a round-robin brainstorm, every member of the meeting participates, contributing one idea to the brainstorm. The first rule is that the group has to make it around the whole room at least once before anyone can contribute a second idea or criticize, elaborate on, or discuss any of the ideas. The second rule is that no one can say, “My idea was already said.” You can come back to that person at the end when they’ve had more time to think. It’s also a good idea to give the team some time to prepare ideas before the brainstorm meeting.

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