Brainstorming sessions are thought to occur mainly in tech company settings. After all, that’s how they come up with all of those ideas for new apps, right? In reality, many businesses take advantage of brainstorming. It helps them come up with new products and services, as well as ways to market their already existing products.
If your company’s brainstorming sessions end up with poor results, then it’s time to branch out and try some of these effective techniques. Your employees might just come up with some excellent money making ideas.
1. Step outside of your office
Staying inside is anathema to coming up with creative ideas. Your employees face the same four walls, day in and day out. This makes creativity hard to come by. If you really want them to come with some great brainstorming results, then you need to encourage employees to step outside of the box literally.
For example, if you’re trying to develop a new product, have them go to the store and look at existing models. Or just let them spend some time walking around outside before the session begins. This physical energy often awakens mental creativity and boosts productivity.
2. Write down ideas no matter how crazy they seem
Sometimes one idea leads to another – even if that first idea is unreasonable and rather off the wall. However, if you don’t write these ideas down, they might be easily forgotten. It doesn’t matter what you write them down on, everything from a large whiteboard to a piece of paper or even a shared Google document will work.
What matters is that they’ll be saved for people to use later. You never know what might develop. The more ideas, the better, even if some of them seem outlandish at first.
3. Set up some general ground rules that aren’t overly strict
A good brainstorming session shouldn’t be a free for all. Yes, people tend to get excited and talk over each other, but that can actually cause discord within the group. This can lead to people being afraid to speak up.
In order to prevent these situations, you need to set up some general ground rules. They can be as simple as “only one person talks at a time” to “don’t disparage other people’s ideas.” You can even choose unusual, somewhat existential rules like “go with the flow” and “be visual with your thoughts.” Just make sure that everyone in the brainstorming session knows about the rules before they get started.
4. Add some toys and physical objects to the room
Studies have shown that people think better when they have something in their hands to fiddle with. Stocking the brainstorming room with small toys like fidget spinners, sets of blocks, and even good old-fashioned Play-Doh creates a fun atmosphere. You can even encourage your employees to bring in their own “thinking toys.”
After all, some people just prefer to have a pen or pencil to fiddle with, while others might already have their own creative toys in mind.
5. Play word games during your brainstorming session
Word games work kind of like toys; only there aren’t any physical objects involved. These games are also a good way to break the ice. This is useful if you have a few employees who are afraid to speak up – or in leadership parlance, are “outgroup members.” Everyone will be less intimidated if they are forced to speak up in a silly situation.
On top of that, you can use wordplay to develop creative ideas. Start with a single word written on a whiteboard and then have your employees build on it.
6. Use reverse psychology
This doesn’t mean that you need to tell your employees not to brainstorm. It’s actually a technique that you can use to get their creative juices flowing. For example, if you were planning an event and trying to come up with a creative hook, rather than tell your employees to come up with a way of welcoming the guests, ask how they would anger the guests instead.
With this technique, the ideas will start flowing, and then you can switch those angry ideas around in order to come up with useful, creative ones.
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7. Create a mood board for each project
Mood boards tend to be home design oriented. Designers include everything from furniture to paint swatches in order to point out just how the finished room will feel. You can turn a whiteboard into a mood board for your next brainstorming session, just by writing down words that are associated with the project.
You might want to throw some pictures on there, too. Since most people are visual learners, these additional associations will help them come up with ideas. In fact, as they call out suggestions, you can add them to the mood board.
8. Be disruptive
If you’re competing against a company or a business that has a lion’s share of the market with a huge budget, you need to change the game by being disruptive. And the best way to do this is by asking these 3 questions:
- What is your challenge? – With your team around, try to find out the biggest challenge that can hinder your progress. Finding out these challenges is critical to the success of your company. E.g. How to bring out a low cost 4G smartphone?
- Which assumptions are related to the challenge? – One of the assumption can be Millennials are the target market for your new smartphone. Or gold and grey are two of the most popular colors for your smartphone.
- Which assumptions to choose and use as thought-starters? E.g. If your target audience is millennials, what are the ways to target audience outside this range – senior citizens, housewives, etc.