Brainstorming is supposed to be about harnessing the power of thinking outside the box to solve that impossible problem. Brainstorming is the first step in the exploration phase of a new project, so it’s important to be open to all ideas and possibilities. Problems arise when team members think they need to filter out the good ideas from the not-so-good ones due to fear of being judged or rejected. We can perform brainstorming as a group or individual as well.
Brainstorming techniques are what you turn to when you are stuck and don’t know what to do next. We use brainstorming techniques when we are in need of ideas, a problem to solve, looking to improve creative thinking, want your team to work together better.
1. Brain Writing:
The main purpose of this technique is to separate idea generation from discussion. The team leader shares the topic with the team, and the team members are asked to write down their individual ideas.
With the help of this anchoring is eliminated and everyone in the team is encouraged to share their own ideas. This technique is best suited for the teams who are greatly influenced by the first ideas presented.
Individual brainstorming techniques such as this will often give more ideas than when the group is left to think up on ideas.
2. Figuring Storming:
This technique is about asking the team members to imagine themselves in the role of a person whose experience relates to your brainstorming goal, like imagining how a client or manager or someone will tackle this issue. Putting yourself in new shoes can give the team a different perspective and provides the possibility for fresh ideas. This technique is best suited for those teams who come across the same ideas for repetitive projects.
3. Online Brainstorming (Brain-netting):
These days virtual teams are becoming more common and this technique helps when such teams want to come together to brainstorm. Though the ideas can be shared via mail but it becomes difficult to archive those ideas for future reference. The great advantage of this technique is that all ideas can be archived electronically in a centralized location and then retrieved later for further thought and discussion.
4. Rapid Ideation:
Sometimes, time limitations can help generate ideas quickly as you don’t have time to filter or overthink each idea. In this technique, the team leader provides context beforehand with information or questions on the topic, budget, deadline, etc. Then, a time limit is set for individuals to write down as many thoughts or ideas around the topic as possible, using any mediums (pen and pare, post its, whiteboard,…) available and everyone in the team need not worry about filtering their ideas. The great part about this style of brainstorming is that it’s completely customizable to meet the needs of the team and project. This technique is best suited for those teams who tend to get sidetracked, or for placing a time limit on brainstorming sessions that frequently lasts longer than expected.
5. Round Robin Brainstorming:
In this technique the team is gathered as a circle and once a topic is shared, everyone in the team go around one by one and offers an idea. The facilitator records each shared idea to discuss later and very important is no shared idea is evaluated until everyone has shared their ideas. This technique is best suited for the team who have team members who stay quiet throughout the meetings.
This technique focuses on forming questions rather than answers. In this technique a topic is shared and the team is challenged to come up with as many questions as they can. An easy way is to start listing the questions that deal with who, what, where, when and why. This kind of approach assures that all aspects of the project are addressed before any work goes into executing it. This technique is best suited for teams who tend to overlook certain aspects of a project and end up rushing to get things done in the last minute.
7. Stepladder Technique:
This technique is one of the more mature brainstorming strategies as it incorporates both an individual and a group participation aspect. This technique encourages every team member to contribute individually before being influenced by everyone else. In this technique the facilitator shares the topic to the entire team and everyone leaves the room except the two members of the team. These two members will then discuss the topic and their ideas. Then, one additional member is added to the group. This new member will contribute his/her ideas before the other two discuss theirs and this cycle is repeated until everyone from the original group is in the room. This technique is useful for teams who are easily influenced by only one or two members, leading to groupthink.
8. Reverse Brainstorming:
This technique asks the participants to come up with great ways to cause a problem. They are asked to start with the problem and ask “how could we cause this?”. Once the team is with a list of great ways to create problems, they are ready to start solving them.