Brainstorming is ingrained in the DNA of office culture, long debated as to its effectiveness at problem-solving and ideation. I have always embraced secluded thinking when tackling complex problems (preferably while walking in the woods); however, there are times that call for group think. To that degree, I wanted to write down some thoughts on how I’ve made these sessions more effective.
- Draw it out. Not everyone is going to grab onto your concept through verbal communication, because people learn/understand in different directions. Sometimes it helps to draw the idea out (for them as much for you).
- What if? Thinking like a designer can help to keep things interesting. What happens if you change up the order of the process? What if you turn the whole thing on its head? What if you’re looking at the wrong problem altogether?
- Engage Everyone. From the youngest person in the room to the most senior should be providing ideas. Sometimes the quietest voices are the most powerful.
- Food. Must be present. Chomping on snacks helps chomp on ideas.
- Why? Sometimes having someone in the room who questions like a 5 year-old (why?… why?… why?) can drive you to the root cause of the problem and ultimately the solution.
- Belief-Based Thinking. “Because I like it” is not a basis for making decisions. What are the core-values that you are using to make decisions? Is this solving the problem or treating the symptoms?
- Embrace Negativity. It is unnerving when people say there aren’t any bad ideas. If you were happy all the time you wouldn’t be a person, you would be a game show host. Diamonds are formed through stress and pressure. Ideas too can come through challenging each other’s thinking.
- Blood Turnips. You can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip so you need to know when to walk away. If the conversation isn’t going anywhere, stop the conversation.
Hmm… I was going to go for a list of 10 (because top 10 lists seem more credible), but I ran out of ideas. Maybe I should have brainstormed on this blog post. Ooops…