How to Successfully Brainstorm
Whether it be for a term paper, a business strategy, a product idea,
vacation plan, etc., it will probably require brainstorming so you need
to understand how it actually works. Let me introduce you to the
steps of successful brainstorming.
Step 1: Identify the Problem and Quality Solutions
Whether you are by yourself or with a group write out an objective.
Identify what it is you are trying to achieve and what qualifies as a
valid solution. This will give the people the correct context so they
don’t waste their efforts listing ideas that would never work in the
first place. If it is a business strategy explain the deadlines, budgets,
and expectations before beginning.
Step 2: Set a time limit
The time limit is very important. Usually
twenty minutes will do, but make sure the
participants are aware that there is a limited amount of time to contribute ideas
so they need to come quickly. Long pauses or worn out individuals are definitely
not conducive to the thought environment. Once the limit is up reevaluate the
situation. If you need more time than add some additional time but make sure
that again there is a known limit. Every time you wish to continue stop and
revaluate if it will be beneficial. We are looking for sprints of creative thought,
Step 3: Map it Out
As the thoughts leap from your mouth make sure to try and make sense of
the mess. The easiest way I have found is to create a mind map in which each
idea is connected to the central objective in some way. Other ideas are
connected to first tier ideas, third to second and so on. Not only does this
make it easier to organize later but allows more connections to be made in
your mind stimulating new ideas.
Step 4: Don’t Stop the Flow
There are no stupid ideas, no matter how ridiculous they may seem.
Saying no to an idea cuts off any future ideas that may have
stemmed from it. Also saying no to an individual or even to yourself
chokes the desire to contribute. I do not care what the idea is you
say ‘and’, never ‘but’.
Step 5: Top of Mind
End the session but encourage participants to keep the topic in their mind throughout the rest of the
day and to write down any additional ideas that they have. Perhaps a different environment will
encourage different ideas.
Step 6: Another Go
Have people gather again and look at the mind map adding any new ideas
they had during the day and then any additional ideas they may have at
that moment. Make sure you have exhausted the creative well.
Step 7: Order and decide
Now sift through the ideas, eliminating those that will not work. Take the rest of the ideas and order
them in a hierarchy of different themes. Order them from best to worst or perhaps from most viable to
least. After they are sifted, organized and ordered, make a decision to which is the best and start
implementing it. It doesn’t matter if you are in business administration, a class in a Provo college, or
planning a wedding vacation, go through the steps and you will brainstorm successfully.
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