Seven Effective Brainstorming Techniques

Original author: Brianna Hansen
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“You can design, create and build the most amazing place in the whole world, but in order to make your dreams come true, you need people,” Walt Disney.

I bring to your attention a translation of an article from the Wrike service blog. It is dedicated to the topic of effective brain storming.

Have you ever had the thought that meeting for a brainstorming is a waste of time? You clearly recognized the need for a joint discussion of an important issue, however, such sessions most often ended in heated debate of several people, while the rest of the team members preferred to remain silent? In this case, there are typical signs of mistakes made when organizing a brainstorming session.


Most people tend to forget that the main goal of brainstorming is not at all the quality of ideas, but their quantity. Yes, you heard right: it is quantity, not quality. Brainstorming is always the first step in exploring a new project, so it is extremely important to be open to all fresh ideas, no matter how unexpected they may sound. Often problems arise at a time when the team believes that it is time to evaluate and filter ideas - in other words, to separate the grains from the chaff.

Another common mistake in brainstorming is the fundamentally wrong approach to the event of its organizers. Often they see the only possible way to have a discussion, which is to discuss the matter with all the team members in the meeting room. This approach is not unacceptable, however, it has a number of significant drawbacks that can reduce the effectiveness of the meeting. Typical in this context is an example in which the first few speakers voice their ideas and, until the end of the brainstorming session, participants discuss only them. Kellogg School’s management professor Lee Thomson conducted a study of traditional brainstorming approaches and found that almost always the very few people who took the initiative took 60-70% of the discussion. At the same time, fresh ideas simply do not have a chance to be taken into account. Brainstorming theorists dubbed such a displacement during the discussion “anchor”.

So, here are seven simple methods for conducting a brainstorming session that will help to significantly increase its effectiveness, contribute to increased interaction in the group, and also exclude an evaluative approach to ideas.

  1. Writing brainstorming
    main point of this approach is to maximize the separation of the two processes - the generation of ideas and their discussion. The host voices the topic of discussion, after which each participant draws up a list of their own ideas. This approach helps to avoid the "anchor" and invites all team members to provide a personal vision of the issue. In addition, each employee has time to think about their ideas, which is clearly useful for introverts. This technique is especially effective for teams that sin by focusing on the thoughts expressed at the beginning of the meeting.
  2. Modeling brain storm
    you ever thought that your problem can handle someone else? Or that not only you can think about an important topic for you? As a result of a modeling brainstorming session, such a prospect will turn out to be quite real. Imagine, for example, that your boss, star idol, or even president can solve your problem. Try on new shoes - this will help your team see the problem from a completely different angle. This technique is suitable for teams involved in the same type of repetitive projects, as a result of which they again and again resort to the same approaches.
  3. Online brainstorming
    You will not be surprised that today teams work remotely in many business sectors. E-mail and other modern technologies have made this way of organizing work the norm in numerous industries. But what if the team needs to get together for a brainstorm? Of course, you can exchange ideas via email. However, this will complicate the process of analysis and further analysis of ideas. Thus, it is obvious that for virtual teams, having a centralized online room where all participants can interact is crucial. In this vein, it is worthwhile, first of all, to take into account the cloud system for storing documents. Stefan Kandal Gordy, one of Wrike's most famous clients, uses the service for his many fashion and music companies.
  4. Speedy idea generation
    It also happens that a time-limited brainstorming helps generate ideas faster, because the team simply does not have time to filter them. In this case, the team leader informs the participants in advance of the discussion topic, the timing and budget of the new project, and also sets the deadline by which each team member can submit his application. At the same time, participants should not evaluate their thoughts. They are allowed to use any means to express ideas: a sheet of paper, a pen, boards, any online tools. Nothing should limit the team, everyone should be as comfortable as possible. The permissible time limit is from 5 to 45 minutes, depending on the complexity of the topic under discussion. This technique is perfect for teams that are often distracted from the topic or like to drag out a brainstorming session.
  5. Circular brainstorming
    team gathers in a circle, and after the host will announce the theme, each member took turns to express their thoughts. The discussion continues until everyone speaks out. The host, in turn, captures all the ideas in order to discuss each of them at the end of the meeting. It is worth noting that, until each member of the team speaks out, ideas cannot be evaluated. This method will be good if there are people in the team who prefer to be silent at each meeting.
  6. Constellation
    A very interesting approach, focused on finding questions, not answers. During the meeting, the team should come up with as many questions as possible regarding the topic of discussion. Questions can be any: what, where, when and why. This brainstorming style helps to consider the project in all its possible aspects. An excellent technique for teams that focus on solving several problems in the project and in the last minutes are trying to close the issues that have arisen.
  7. Ladder technology
    This technique was developed in 1992. The point is that the employee gets the opportunity to voice his own thoughts before he hears all the other ideas. The host of the meeting voices the topic, and all but two participants in the brainstorming session leave the room. The remaining two voice their thoughts to each other. At the end of their conversation, another participant enters the room. He speaks out before he hears the ideas of the participants in the room. The cycle is repeated until the whole team gathers in the room. The method is well suited for teams that tend to fall under the influence of several people. It also helps to reveal to shy people who prefer to share their thoughts with two or three colleagues, rather than the whole team.

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