If you are someone that really loves to come up with creative new ideas during brainstorming sessions, or if you are the type that feels feel intimidated by the brainstorming process, chances are that you still have to engage in brainstorms at work.
No matter your job title or industry, it’s always beneficial to learn new tips and tricks that can be used to help make brainstorming easier.
Because the best ideas strike when we least expect them to come to us, the brainstorming process is incredibly challenging and hard to predict. The people that are able to come up with great ideas on command consistently are always invaluable in the workplace. With this in mind, it’s clear that it is well worth the effort for professionals young and old to invest time and effort in improving their brainstorming abilities.
For most people, developing fresh, new ideas time and time again is an ongoing challenge. Since inspiration strikes at moments that we can’t predict when we need to come up with an idea on the spot we often find ourselves coming up short.
This is a challenge this is somewhat inevitable. But we can do our best to counteract it by following brainstorming best practices.
Brainstorming is difficult for a number of very different reasons.
These reasons include factors like groupthink, lack of preparation, and poor office culture. The freeloader effect is also pervasive at many offices. This is a hard to avoid problem that keeps people from actively participating in brainstorming conversations.
Additionally, with groupthink, people fall into the trap of thinking the same way that their colleagues do. This type of thinking stifles innovation and keeps the group from coming up with a creative breakthrough. Poor office culture can also pose a challenge to brainstorming sessions.
Those that don’t feel comfortable around their coworkers will have a hard time expressing unique ideas.
Finally, many introverts detest brainstorms, instead preferring to spend time coming up with ideas alone. Despite these many different challenges, if you learn to implement brainstorming best practices you will be well prepared to come up with interesting and original ideas whenever you need to.
The 4 Pillars of Brainstorming Great Ideas
One framework that can be incredibly useful for counteracting the most common brainstorming pitfalls is to implement the four pillars of brainstorming. The four pillars of brainstorming creative and unique ideas on command were developed by Alex F. Osborn.
Alex F. Osborn is best known as an advertiser who coined the term “brainstorm” in the 1940s. His formula suggests going for quality, withholding criticism, welcoming wild ideas, and combining and improving ideas. These tactics can be used to create a brainstorming environment that all types of employees will excel in time and time again.
He suggests going for quantity during brainstorms, which means putting in the hard work to develop as many ideas as you can during a brainstorm session.
If you are looking for an easy way to increase the number of ideas you’re able to contribute to the group during a session, consider spending some time alone beforehand to prepare.
During a brainstorm, it’s a best practice to keep negative thoughts and feedback to yourself for the duration of the brainstorming session. Another important point that Osborn emphasizes is to be open to wild and crazy ideas during the session.
One of his most famous quotes is, “It’s easier to tone down a wild idea than to think up a new one.”
When the session comes to a close and all the ideas have been shared, take some time to identify creative ways to improve the ideas that the group generated during the brainstorm. When you take the time to combine the ideas shared by different individuals in the group, you’re guaranteed to come up with a great idea!
More tips on how to brainstorm a brilliant idea
Other tips for brainstorming that you can implement include spending time thinking alone in preparation for group idea generation.
When you’re feeling stuck during a brainstorm, consider changing your environment and getting fresh air to get the creative juices flowing.
Carry an idea journal to make sure you write down ideas whenever inspiration strikes! Some people even like to create a mood board full of inspiration to help trigger ideas.
If you find that your coworkers are struggling to come up with ideas during brainstorms, consider changing the structure of your brainstorming sessions. One study even found that those that tell an embarrassing story to the group before brainstorming feel more comfortable expressing ideas throughout the session.
Fundera created a super cool and unique infographic full of brainstorming tips and tricks. Use the four pillars of brainstorming and these other best practices as your guide to come up with great ideas whenever you need to. Any professional would benefit from taking these ideas to heart and implementing them during their next brainstorm!