I believe the old fashioned and most common way of brainstorming is not effective. Here is why:
- Guaranteed, the first most obvious idea gets blurted out and everyone forms his or her ‘opinions’ around this, brainstorming additional or alternative ways to develop it
- The group becomes anchored to the first idea so that any other ideas are measured against it
- We settle. Being told to be ‘uncritical’ leads to bias and we often want to avoid offending other people if we state our idea may be a more effective response
- Extroverts vs. introverts… It is often the more confident and direct people who will share their ideas first, overriding the quiet thinkers.
- We think too much. We are scared of the quality of our ideas, when really; brainstorming sessions focus more on quantity over quality initially. Refinement and development come in the later stages. Just brain vomit your thoughts!
So how do we solve this problem?
Brainwriting separates idea generation from discussion. After receiving and analysing the brief, each person writes down every idea they have for about 5-10 minutes prior to the discovery stage (which is explored below).
You can actually turn brainwriting into a fun game… you might have heard of the 635 Method. It is a quick and effective method for creating many different ideas.
This method involves 6 people writing down 3 ideas each on a paper within 5 minutes. The papers are passed around 5 times and each individual adds 3 additional ideas. As a result, 108 ideas are generated.
How productive is that! When you think about this, traditional brainstorming really doesn’t use time effectively. Often you get 5-10 ideas in a 60-minute session.
After brainwriting individually or doing the 635 method of brainwriting, everyone’s ideas are discovered and explored anonymously through sticky notes on a wall. The best solutions are filtered as a group. Ways to potentially develop the top ideas are explored together. Ultimately, the brainstorm session progresses from quantity to quality.
I believe a system that focuses on brainwriting combined with the addition of some other brainstorming techniques is the most effective in coming up with an ‘Out Of The Box’ solution.
- Produces more ideas by removing anchoring on one idea (more creative and diverse). Members contribute more equally than some often being passive in traditional brainstorming sessions.
- Avoids bias (Brainstorming is the first step in the exploration phase of a new project, so it’s critical to be open to all ideas. Individuals are often selective when voicing their ideas due to fear of being judged or rejected).
- Takes the pressure off people by giving them time to really think about all the possible solutions.
You can even apply other effective brainstorming techniques to expand on the best ideas. Some of these include:
- Use a random word generator to see how the word can be used to create an interesting twist or innovative solution.
- Embrace contradictions and paradoxes. Think of the opposite and see how these ideas can create a unique marketing message.
- See what other people on Quora are saying about the topic
- Use related worlds and use ideas from that world. Identify parallel themes and solutions.
- Put yourself in your target market’s shoes and thinking of that individual in each stage of the decision making process as well as the consumption stage. Experience fosters creativity and opens your mind to solutions you would not normally think of sitting around a table in a meeting room, where you are either distracted by the food in front of you or the iciness coming from the air con.
For example, when coming up with a new marketing strategy for a brand’s vacuum cleaner, you are more likely to think of effective solutions after using one and noting all the annoyances, potential improvements, what made you buy this particular vacuum cleaner, etc.
After this, results are further filtered and the idea the team will pursue is chosen.
So there you have it! I hope you will be able to apply these techniques to your future brainstorming sessions for more ‘Out Of The Box’ solutions that will make your team stand out from the rest.