Most people know all about brainstorming: people sit in a room and come up with as many ideas as they can. They don’t censor themselves for idea quality or feasibility. Some simply put out ideas off the top of their head, while others use Google to come up with ideas.
There are better ways than the standard brainstorming method, however, to take up problems and develop new ideas for them.
The Storyboarding Method
A storyboard is like a cartoon strip: you place pictures or written words to do with ideas, one after the other, on a sheet of paper. Then, you try to develop a story through them. When you storyboard ideas for an ideating session, you take ideas from everyone, write each down on a sticky note, paste it on a board, and then try to form a story around it. It’s a great way to see how these ideas interact and see if there is a connection that can be made among them.
The Mind Mapping Method
Creating mind maps is common in many creative fields. To create a mind map, you write down the problem on a whiteboard and then surround it with words that indicate the things that you feel you may need in order to solve the problem. If the problem is growing website traffic, for instance, the solutions are the things that you need, like SEO or organic traffic. As a second mind map layer, you can take an individual need, like SEO, and add potential solutions, including hiring an SEO strategist, taking up a marketing course and so on. It’s possible to add third or fourth mind map layers, as well. It’s a proven creative technique that works.
Sketching As a Group
Sketching helps visual thinking, something that is often more effective than discussions conducted through speech. In group sketching, a person begins the idea-making process by sketching something on the whiteboard. Another person then comes along and adds to the sketch with his own idea. As everyone contributes to the idea through sketches, they add up to something substantial.
Creating Word Banks
To create a word bank, you start with a word or a problem and then create a large set of words that you would associate with the word. It’s a word association activity, but it works with large groups of words. Creating word banks helps you break a problem down in your mind and form manageable parts. When a word banking session is ready, you start to form relationships among the words that you’ve thought of. When you do this, you come up with new ideas.
The Thinking Hats Technique
Otherwise known as the Six Thinking Hats technique, this method was invented by Edward de Bono involves role-play. In a group of six people, each person takes up a different role and addresses the problem in that capacity. One participant uses logic to think about the problem, another one uses optimism, a third one plays devil’s advocate. The others take up roles for emotion, creativity, and management. As each person takes up a role, they get to think very clearly about the problem in that capacity. This method can bring up far more viewpoints than any other technique.
Brainstorming in Reverse
Knowing what not to do is just as important as knowing what to do. When you set up a reverse brainstorming session, your aim is to think up every mistake that it would be possible to make in a given situation. In a reverse brainstorming session for marketing knowledge, for example, participants would think of mistakes such as not using social media and social media ads, not paying attention to various metrics and so on. Bringing up problems is a useful way to know what mistakes to avoid.
Brainstorming is a great technique. It’s important to understand, however, that sometimes, some techniques can work better.
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