Brainstorming 101 – Idea Generation Techniques

After picking the right people, setting the scenario, establishing the ground rules, and adding a little sugar and caffeine, it’s time to kick off the fun.  You’ve probably seen brainstorming where a group of people sit around a room and bounce ideas off one another – sketching and writing ideas on the wall.  But there are many other techniques that can be equally effective and just even more fun.  Here are a few:

You can do a Group Chat over the internet or on an internal network where a group of people can type and view ideas on their computer.  During these types of brainstorming sessions, ideas come up fast and furious limited only by typing speed.  The unconventional part of this technique is that it affords participants a certain degree of anonymity.  This usually adds a stretch to the imagination – since nobody knows who is typing in all the crazy ideas!

You can also do a Pass the Idea technique.  Each person starts an idea with a sketch or description and then passes it on the next person.  Everyone takes turns building on the ideaa as they get passed around.  By the time you are finished, the ideas have taken as many different directions as there are people in the group.

A third method is the Role Play.  Each person assumes a certain character or personality and acts out the role within a brainstorming session.  This technique helps people get out of their shells and reduces inhibitions in general.  For example, you could take on the role of a pregnant mother of 5 who needs to design a baby mover.  It’s a little like dressing up in a costume and acting out a fantasy…  The results can therefore be a little unexpected!

Another method is the use of  ‘Mind Maps’ which are schematic style word assocations. Choose your subject and then connect assocations that relate to your subject. Then connect other assocations to these associations and so on. By developing this array or associations, new conepts and relationships may present themselves that wouldn’t otherwise.  

Finally, you can just sit around a table with stimulating objects, snacks, and drinks or do what I consider the Conventional.  The group talks, sketches, and writes capturing ideas as they develop.  This is probably the most common form of brainstorming I’ve seen and guess what… it works.

All these techniques will generate lots of ideas.  For what to do with all these seemingly disconnected ideas… you’ll have to wait for another post.

For more posts on Creativity and Innovation processes – click here.

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