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Brainstorming: Generating Many Radical, Creative Ideas

Why individual brainstorming might bring better results

  • groups aren't always strict in following the rules of brainstorming, and bad behaviors creep in
  • people pay so much attention to other people that they don't generate ideas of their own – or they forget these ideas while they wait for their turn to speak. 

On your own, you don't have to worry about other people's egos or opinions, and you can be freer and more creative.

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Brainstorming: Generating Many Radical, Creative Ideas

Brainstorming: Generating Many Radical, Creative Ideas

https://www.mindtools.com/brainstm.html

mindtools.com

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Key Ideas

Brainstorming

It encourages people to come up with thoughts and ideas that can, at first, seem a bit crazy. Some of these ideas can be crafted into original, creative solutions to a problem, while others can spark even more ideas. 

This helps to get people unstuck by "jolting" them out of their normal ways of thinking.

Brainstorming for problem solving

  • It brings team members' diverse experience into play. It increases the richness of ideas explored, which means that you can often find better solutions.
  • It can help you get buy-in from team members for the solution chosen – after all, they're likely to be more committed to an approach if they were involved in developing it. 
  • It helps team members bond, as they solve problems in a positive, rewarding environment.

Why individual brainstorming might bring better results

  • groups aren't always strict in following the rules of brainstorming, and bad behaviors creep in
  • people pay so much attention to other people that they don't generate ideas of their own – or they forget these ideas while they wait for their turn to speak. 

On your own, you don't have to worry about other people's egos or opinions, and you can be freer and more creative.

Individual vs. group brainstorming

  • Individual brainstorming is most effective when you need to solve a simple problem, generate a list of ideas, or focus on a broad issue. 
  • Group brainstorming is often more effective for solving complex problems.

Advantages of group brainstorming

  • You can take advantage of the full experience and creativity of all team members
  • When one member gets stuck with an idea, another member's creativity and experience can take the idea to the next stage. 
  • It helps everyone feel that they've contributed to the solution.
  • Great teambuilding exercise.

To run a group brainstorming session:

  1. Prepare the Group: set a comfortable meeting environment, consider who will attend the session and how much preparation is necessary in advance.
  2. Present the Problem: clearly define the problem that you want to solve, and lay out any criteria that you must meet. Give people plenty of quiet time at the start of the session, then, ask them to share their ideas.
  3. Guide the Discussion: encourage everyone to contribute and to develop ideas, including the quietest people, and discourage anyone from criticizing ideas.

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The 2 goals of effective brainstorming:
The 2 goals of effective brainstorming:
  • Defer judgment (don’t get upset when people say bad ideas).
  • Reach for quantity (come up with as many ideas as possible).
Obstacles to an effective brainstorming:
  • Fear of judgment from people in positions of power;
  • Extroverts take center stage;
  • Groups hate scary ideas, even it they're great ones;
Steps of the creative process
  1. Preparation: individual study to focus your mind on the problem;
  2. Incubation: the problem enters your unconscious mind and nothing appears to be happening externally;
  3. Intimation: you get a “feeling” that a solution is on the way;
  4. Illumination: your creative idea moves to conscious awareness;
  5. Verification: your idea is consciously verified, expanded upon, and then executed.
Restrict yourself

Research suggests placing self-imposed limitations can boost creativity. 

It forces your brain to come up with creative solutions to finish a project around the parameters you’ve ...

Re-conceptualize the problem

Instead of thinking of a cut-and-dry end goal to certain situations, creative people sit back and examine the problem in different ways before beginning to work.

If you find yourself stagnating by focusing on generic problems, try to re-conceptualize the problem by focusing on a more meaningful angle.

For example: Instead of thinking “What would be something cool to paint?” rather ask, “What sort of painting evokes the feeling of loneliness that we all encounter after a break-up?”

Create psychological distance

Creating “psychological” distance may be useful for breaking through a creative block.

Try to imagine your creative task as being disconnected and distant from your current position/location - this may make the problem more accessible and can encourage higher level thinking.

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The right side of the brain
The right side of the brain

Creativity isn’t the preserve of one side of the brain, and it isn’t a talent confined to people with a special kind of brain. If you’re human and you’ve got a brain, you’re capabl...

The “Eureka!” moment

This myth encourages the belief that creativity is a passive process. It suggests you have to wait and hope that you’ll make a breakthrough.

That Eureka moment is actually the last step in a long, involved process and not the only step. For this to happen, your unconscious mind needs material to work with. You have to put in the hard work of studying and mastering your field and exposing yourself to different perspectives.

The lone, eccentric geniuses

In reality, creativity is a team sport.

The lone genius myth is a stereotype and it’s unhelpful because it suggests the route to innovation is to cut oneself off from colleagues and collaboration. You need a modest amount of intelligence to be creative, but extremely high IQ is neither sufficient nor necessary for being an innovator.

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Creative Thinking Defined

Creativity is not just reserved for artistic tasks such as writing, painting or composing music.

Creative thinking is the ability to consider something – a conflict between empl...

Top Creative Thinking Skills
  • Analytical. Before thinking creatively about something, you first have to be able to understand it.
  • Open-Minded. Setting aside any assumptions or biases you may have, and look at things in a completely new way.
  • Problem Solving. Using your creativity to solve important issues.
  • Organization. Being able to structure a plan of action with clear goals and deadlines is vital.
  • Communication. Strong written and oral communication skills to communicate your solutions effectively.
Examples of Creative Thinking
Generally, anything that involves an “aha” moment is considered creative.
  • Artistic Creativity. You don't have to be an artist for your work to have an artistic element. For example: Composing a new fundraising script for volunteers or devising a lesson plan that will engage students.
  • Creative Problem-Solving. For example: Coming up with new procedures to improve quality or suggesting a way to improve customer service.
  • Creativity in STEM. For example: Constructing a research model to test a hypothesis or devising a computer program to automate a billing process.
Building a better brainstorm

Everyone can learn to brainstorm better - it’s a process like any other. 

And the beauty of a process is that it can be taught, learned, and shared. 

How To Brainstorm Like A Googler
  1. Know the user: To solve a big question, you first have to focus on the user you’re solving it for–then everything else will follow. So we go out in the field and talk to people.
  2. Think 10x: It’s about trying to improve something by 10 times rather than by 10%.
  3. Prototype: Take action. You want to strike when the iron is hot–you don’t want to walk away or agree to follow talk with more talk.
Brainstorming guidelines
  1. Build on each others’ ideas
  2. Generate lots of ideas. Quantity is more important than quality, so really let loose. 
  3. Write headlines. Being able to describe an idea in less than 6 words helps you clarify it. 
  4. Illustrate. Pictures are usually louder than words and harder to misinterpret.
  5. Think big. Invite bold ideas.
  6. Defer judgment.
Engage in Observation Sessions
In order to get your brain to think in new and creative ways, set aside time to do something where you think differently: for example, people watching.
Socialize Outside Your Normal Circles

New people don't know your old stories, so you'll have to revisit your existing thoughts.

The new perspectives will help to think differently.

Read More Books

Books are great for creating new thoughts and stimulating good ideas.

Even if you cannot make the time for a book, spend time browsing a bookstore for plenty of thought stimulation.

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How Ideas are Made

Generating ideas is the process of finding new connections between old ideas.

We have to be able to connect the dots, cross-pollinate ideas from various disciplines, and combine ...

Seth Godin
Seth Godin

"Someone asked me where I get all my good ideas, explaining that it takes him a month or two to come up with one and I seem to have more than that. I asked him how many bad ideas he has every month. He paused and said, 'None.'"

A Safe Environment

Create a safe place, free from criticism, because we tend to clam up if we feel like we're going to be criticized.

Rather than criticizing what you don't like, focus on getting ideas out in the open so you can build on them.

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A brief overview of brainstorming

The brainstorming process was popularized in the 1950s by Alex Osborn, an advertising executive at Barton, Batton, Durstine, & Osborn (BBDO).

Frustrated by hi...

Principles of brainstorming
  • Generate as many ideas as possible. For the purposes of this exercise, quantity is more important than quality.
  • Don’t judge any ideas until the session is over. People will hold back if they think they may be judged negatively.
  • Encourage people to think outside of the box. Although wild ideas may not be feasible, they steer the conversation in new directions.
  • Combine ideas. Encouraging people to build off one another makes it easier for them to contribute and boosts team morale.
Work alone—together

Give people time to think by themselves prior to the brainstorm, so everyone has a chance to take his or her thought process in a unique direction.

A potential consequence of brainstorming is convergent thinking: the tendency for individuals’ ideas to become increasingly similar over the course of a brainstorming session.

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Our brains have two ways of operating
Our brains have two ways of operating
  • Focused: when you're very focused on solving the problem in front of you. But this also clamps down on unconventional and creative solutions
  • Distracte...
Generating good ideas on command

Make sure you’re prepared at any time.

  • Find out when you’re relaxed, happy and distracted (because that's when creative thoughts are more likely to appear) and make a mental note of when that’s likely to happen.
  • Find a way to record the ideas that are sure to come.
Output comes from input

If you want to have a lot of good ideas, you need to expose yourself to good ideas.

This means reading books, having conversations with interesting people, seeking out new experiences,...

Have a capture mechanism

Creative ideas often come to you when you’re not deliberately trying to solve a problem, when your mind is relaxed.

That's why your creative process must include a system to capture ideas when you have them, so you can work on them later. The simplest mechanism is simply to have a list where you keep ideas.

Incubate your ideas

Regularly review your ideas lists. Incubation helps because just as a spontaneous connection can generate an idea, an incubated idea can spontaneously mature into a plan of action if you take care of it.

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