A Guide to Brainstorming

When Clarence Birdseye took a hunting journey to the icy wilderness of Canada, he came up with the idea of what would eventually become an empire of frozen foods.

Bitely Team
Last update:calendarApr 20, 2024
Read time:clock7 min
A Guide to Brainstorming

Great ideas are always there if you are persistent and brave enough to look.

When Clarence Birdseye took a hunting journey to the icy wilderness of Canada, he came up with the idea of what would eventually become an empire of frozen foods. He discovered how Indigenous people buried their perishable foods in the snow to keep them fresh. And it occurred to him that this could serve as a model for commercial food preservation. However, he would have never come across an innovative idea for a business if he had confined himself in the office for days and days trying to generate a good idea for one.

In their book, The Idea Hunter, Bill Fischer, Andy Boynton, and William Bole advise us to remain open to new ideas, as brilliant ideas always await us to discover them. All we need to do is pay attention. "Idea hunters" are highly knowledgeable about their work area, yet they remain fascinated by the surrounding environment. To become one of the pack, you can follow these steps:

Decide What Issue You Would Like To Address

In his book The Creative Thinking Handbook, Chris Griffiths suggests improving your thinking when trying to solve a problem:

  • Consider your biases when searching for creative solutions to avoid being limited by them.
  • Don't be afraid to think in new and different ways that go beyond the boundaries of what you are comfortable with.
  • Rather than merely reacting, act on your terms and do things your way. Having the best product is more important than having the first one on the market.
  • Always question every claim you make.
  • Identify the problem by asking the right questions and analyze it from various angles.
  • To reduce the complexity of a problem, try to redefine it differently.

In this case, understanding your problem in context is the first step in generating ideas.

Make Sure Your Right Brain Is Active

Here are a few tips from Jeff Davidson, the author of The 60-Second Innovator, on activating your "right brain thinking":

  • Doodling is a better way to plan than logically listing things. It is essential to let a wandering mind escape from the shackles of a linear thought pattern. 
  • Take part in some physical activity. You can stretch, dance, or walk when your brain tries to devise a solution. 
  • Consider using your weak hand instead of your dominant hand when writing or eating. This will allow you to access the right side of the brain, which is more creative. 
  • Let your ideas simmer for a while before recording them. Then, when you have the chance, take a fresh look at them. 

An Excellent Session of Brainstorming

Here are some tips from Davidson on how to set up a great brainstorming session: 

  • Decide what the problem is and start from there.
  • Be sure to inform your participants that there will be no mockery or judgment; outrageous ideas are encouraged. 
  • In a group session, it is necessary to encourage everyone to participate. 
  • Create a fun and light atmosphere that encourages innovative thinking. 

Known in Japan as kaizen, this philosophy focuses on enhancing a product with minor changes. For example, consider whether it would be better to make it larger, a smaller size, more vivid, dimmer, lighter, etc., or whether it would be heavier, more lightweight, or smaller. 

Taking time to ease your mind and contemplate is crucial in creative thinking, but you should refrain from overdoing it. Take a different approach when you feel stuck and don't know what to do. 

In his book Brain Storm, Jason Rich presents some timeless advice about the art of thinking creatively. During a brainstorming session, numerous ideas are generated to inspire innovative thinking and the creative process. In this case, the focus should be on quantity rather than quality, and you shouldn't make any judgments until you evaluate the results. For example, think of five ways a paperclip can get the creative juices flowing and stimulate the imagination. There is nothing better than making wild suggestions. The wilder, the better. 

Brainstorming With Your Team

It would help to create a peaceful and comfortable environment where you can work creatively. Avoid distractions as much as possible. Gather helpful tools, such as an audio recorder or a computer, before recording. Keeping an overview of team ideas can be made more accessible by using applications, but often, the most effective and valuable tool is simply a piece of paper and pencil. 

During a brainstorming session with a team, it is advisable to have someone supervise the meeting to ensure it stays on track. A maximum of 10 people should be allowed to be part of a group. It is an excellent idea to incorporate improvisation so everyone can put their imagination to the test. As a general rule, brainstorming sessions should be a space where there is no judgment and no interference. The careful screening of candidates comes later in the process. 

Make your organization a place where everyone is encouraged to seek good ideas and suggestions.

Dean M. Schroeder and Alan G. Robinson, authors of The Idea-Driven Organization, say it is essential to incorporate ideas from frontline workers into your organization. Make sure you assemble a team to assess your company at all levels and develop a system for generating ideas.

Test the prototype program to ensure the tweaks you implement are compatible with the pilot program. The implementation of your strategy will be gradual. The beginning of the project will be awash with ideas. Yet, in time, you’ll get the rhythm just right. So, establish a culture of innovation in your organization to develop your next big thing!

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