10 Brainstorming Techniques and Methods to Start Implementing Today

by in Best Practices

The pressure of coming up with great ideas and new ways of approaching tasks and issues in the workplace can be a little overwhelming at times — that’s why it’s important to take the time to take a step back, take a breath and look at the bigger picture. While being able to set a time for you and your team to have these types of open-ended brainstorming meetings might seem like a luxury, it’s crucial to squeeze those into your work routines to avoid work slumps and burning out. 

Here are a few things to consider to make your brainstorming session the most cohesive and productive that it can be, and a handful of ways to bring those sessions to life. 

Team brainstorming on a project with multi-colored sticky notes

What is brainstorming?

Brainstorming is a thought-exploration activity for both problem solving and coming up with new ideas. Brainstorming helps teams and individuals think outside of the box to solve a problem, see issues from all angles, stimulate creative thinking and develop new ideas. 

Popular brainstorming techniques include: 

  1. Brain-netting
  2. Charrette
  3. Figure storming
  4. Gap filling
  5. Mind mapping
  6. Round Robin
  7. Starbursting
  8. Stepladder
  9. Storyboarding
  10. SWOT

4 reasons brainstorming is important

While many brainstorms are used to distill creative thinking into a physical output (list of options, problem solving branches, SWOT analysis), they also help us take a step back to recharge our mental capacity and sharpen our ability to problem solve. Here are four reasons effective brainstorming is important for you and your business: 

Generates novel ideas

Idea generation is the first step of many projects. It is important to be open to all ideas, whether they are initially well received or not. Collect as many ideas as you need in the most open-minded manner as possible. Then, innovate and reinvent until you have a distilled set of ideas for your project.

Solves problems

Brainstorming can help you and your business overcome obstacles by preparing you to solve problems as they arise. Getting a group together with a common goal in mind helps you see problems from different angles. With brainstorming, you can identify possible problems and then find effective solutions for each one. 

Fosters creative thinking 

Brainstorm sessions kick start your brain to think creatively, usually within a limited time frame, and help you shed a light on your most creative ideas. With the right environment and the right mind-set, you can train your brain to think more efficiently and creatively during brainstorming sessions.

Builds camaraderie

Group brainstorming can help you build stronger relationships with your team as you work together to come up with unique and creative solutions to problems. 

10 brainstorming methods for 2019

Brainstorming can take on many different shapes. And just as each person and business is unique, there are many ways to become a brainstorming guru.  Here are 10 types of brainstorming activities to get your creative juices flowing.  

1. Brain-netting

As one of the most used brainstorming methods, brain-netting is when everyone on the team can collaborate either privately or publicly via online platforms. For instance, Slack or Google Docs are usually used for private or individual work, with the capability to share and edit simultaneously with colleagues. This way, everyone on your team is building on the same document or idea in an orderly way. 

2. Charrette 

The Charrette method is when a group of more than 20 participants from different departments come together and break into smaller groups of two or three, divvy up topics and issues among the groups and discuss. Charrette sessions are great for getting immediate results and feedback, while also allowing all participants to have an equal part in the decision-making and brainstorming process. 

3. Figure storming or rolestorming 

Figure storming is when you and your team put yourselves in someone else’s shoes and make decisions based on what you think that person would do. 

4. Gap filling

This method is where you and your team, quite literally, fill in the gap between where you are and where you want to be. With this method, there will be several ways to fill in said gap, so it’s important to document all these iterations online or on a collaborative document so anyone from your team can access, analyze and filter through them.

5. Mind mapping

Mind mapping is the most creative and hands-on way to brainstorm, mixed with sticky notes, diagrams and correlations. Creating a mind map helps you visualize your goal and your challenges in reaching your desired outcome by thinking of associative words, related subgoals or problems. Once you have written down everything that comes to mind and created a huge web of related topics, conversations and ideas, and you can start creating relationships between words and topics to build on your original goals. 

6. Round Robin 

For all the shy people out there, this is your chance to share your ideas. Everyone in your team sits in a circle and takes turns sharing one idea at a time. There are no wrong or right answers during the round, so everyone gets a chance to speak up! If ideas start to get repeated, ask for a skip and have the group come back to you at the end to present another idea you may have. The second round is open to critiques and open discussions based on ideas presented in the first round. 

7. Starbursting

Draw a six-pointed star on a piece of paper. Each point represents a question based on one of the following: who, what, where, when, why and how. Formulate questions based on these six categories that are related to the goal or challenge you are trying to address. With these questions, you can start discussions to get different perspectives on certain themes and then come to a conclusion on what the next steps could be. 

8. Stepladder

For those of you on smaller teams, stepladdering can be effective for when your team gets stuck on thinking of new ideas. Get the whole team in the room and start by introducing the main brainstorm challenge. Then have everyone but two people leave the room — these two people will start the discussion and brainstorming process for a couple of minutes. Then add another team member to piggyback on the ideas that are already being discussed. Continue this until everyone is in the room again and each of them has shared some ideas.

9. Storyboarding

Another visual way of brainstorming is literally drawing it out. Make a step-by-step narrative of a problem to thoroughly understand the problem itself. Once you organize your notes in chronological order, you can eliminate notes that are not related to the problem at all. With this overview, your team will then see how the ideas around it can interact to form a solution. 

10. SWOT

We can’t forget about the classic SWOT analysis! This method stands for “strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.” It is a measured technique where you take internal and external factors into account such as facts, data, market trends and more. By clearly defining where your team succeeds and needs help, you can create a strategic approach to getting the outcome you want, with a clear game plan on how to get there. 

Bonus Tip: Create a Brainstorming Playlist

Last but not least, productive music can help you during your brainstorming session to find inspiration, be creative and stay mentally focused. It can be anything from classical music to deep house, as long as the music promotes concentration — in a major key for positivity — and with a consistent volume and rhythm for the focus. Release that dopamine in your brain to prevent yourself from hitting a wall!

How Lifesize brainstorms with the entire team

Lifesize uses several collaborative tools during team meetings to brainstorm in the most productive and intuitive way. With the Kaptivo integration with Lifesize Share™, you can whiteboard and collaborate in real time with your colleagues during your meeting.  Wirelessly share your screen and capture all your diagrams and storyboards live, with Lifesize.

Make brainstorming sessions more efficient

Brainstorming sessions aren’t always pretty — in fact, brainstorming sessions are where you and your team should be the messiest. No idea is a bad idea, and no question is a dumb question. So don’t hesitate to dive right in to your brainstorm — because once you get your head in the game, you’ll find your workflow and improve it every day. These brainstorming methods will help you make the first step fun, fast and flexible.