Brainstorming came directly from advertising agencies to help companies creatively solve problems. This technique consists of bringing people together to generate ideas freely and, from group debate, find innovative solutions.
Unlike traditional meetings, the environment in brainstorming is lighter, informal, and favorable to innovation, and promotes collaborative thinking. Do you want to know how to do it in your company? Then, we have separated tips and information to help you.
So read on and understand why this strategy is so prevalent in business today.
Brainstorming: What is it?
Brainstorming is a group dynamics technique used to generate creative ideas and solve problems as a team. Promoting meetings of this type has become common in modern companies, such as startups, but it is far from a new strategy.
Brainstorming became famous in the corporate world from advertising agencies, which have been using the technique to create campaigns for a long time. To give you an idea, the method was developed by publicist Alex F. Osborn in the late 1940s, which expands the generation of ideas from group sessions.
Today, companies from all segments use brainstorming to drive the creative process and collectively find innovative solutions. The basic principle of the technique is that several heads together work better than one.
Furthermore, when several people think in a specific direction, the solutions are more diversified and innovative. If you still don’t do it in your company, maybe you need to know how it works to put it into practice.
How it Works?
Brainstorming is a meeting with a pre-established objective and some direction rules.
- Clear direction: all brainstorming participants must arrive at the meeting with all the necessary information and a well-defined objective
- Criticism-free environment: brainstorming is not the time for criticism, as everyone should feel free to suggest any idea (judgment and selection comes later)
- Unfiltered Creativity: Participants should speak their minds without filters or fear of judgment, even if it seems absurd at first glance. Usually, the best ideas start out utopian and then improve.
- Ideas in quantity: quantity is essential in brainstorming. The objective is not to find a finished solution but to combine several different ideas and thoughts to combine and reach a common denominator.
- Matching ideas: Participants are motivated to complement the ideas already suggested and to act collaboratively to arrive at solutions.
How to brainstorm: step by step
Once you understand the essentials of brainstorming and its work, all that remains is knowing its steps. Here’s how to promote a brainstorm in your business:
1. Define what needs to be resolved
The first step in brainstorming is to define the problem to be solved by the meeting. For example, it can be a meeting to develop a new product, create a promotion, understand a target audience, among other objectives.
The important thing is to delimit the topic and clarify the purpose of the conversation without deviating from the main subject. To make it easier, the brainstorming statement can be a question. For example: “How can we make the attraction and selection process more diverse?”.
2. Select a group of people
According to the chosen theme, you will have to select which people should participate in the brainstorming. There is no specific rule regarding group size, and the meeting can even be one-to-one if you prefer.
But generally speaking, the more people, the more diverse the views and the greater the creative potential. At the same time, the participants must have knowledge and involvement in the theme to add new ideas without running away from the proposal too much.
It may even be good to call people from other areas to give their opinion, for example, but the response team should form the core of the meeting.
3. Set a date and time for the meeting
The next step is to choose a date and time for brainstorming. Also, it is essential to set a ceiling to maintain focus and avoid digression. Generally, 30 to 50 minutes are enough to generate ideas, but it all depends on the complexity of the topic and the team’s available time.
Regarding the date, it is worth choosing a quieter time and away from other meetings to encourage creativity.
4. Send an invitation with all the information
Brainstorming participants must receive the invitation early enough to prepare for the event. When sending the email, include all the details about the topic and explain the context of the meeting.
Also, make it very clear what your goal is. It is crucial to attach materials, research, previous hypotheses, cases, and information that helps get people into the environment and awaken reflection. Also, it’s worth listing the basic brainstorming rules we’ve seen above to reinforce the proposal.
5. Decide how to write down ideas
An essential point in brainstorming is how ideas will be recorded and combined.
Here are some standard use methods and tools:
- Jot down ideas and combinations on a whiteboard throughout the meeting, separating suggestions into groups.
- Leave only the statement and some information written on the whiteboard and paste post-its with each suggested idea, allowing the suggestions to be moved on the board.
- Use a digital tool that allows the creation of flowcharts and visualization of ideas and their connections, such as the MindMeister platform (mental maps).
It’s up to you to decide which method or tool is best suited to jotting down ideas and organizing the meeting. Remember that the software has the advantage of facilitating real-time editing and reducing the risk of losing information, and making it possible to share the file with the group after the meeting.
6. Organize and drive idea generation
Despite having the appearance of an informal meeting, brainstorming needs to be well organized and mediated to result in reasonable solutions.
If you are responsible for conducting the conversation, you must choose a way to organize the talks and ensure that everyone participates at the moment.
One suggestion is to present the problem statement and ask collaborators to raise their hands to give their ideas. However, it is also essential to encourage people to let go and say whatever comes to mind without fear of other people’s judgments.
Everyone at the meeting should be free from being in the space of prejudice and focus on creativity and exchanging ideas. Furthermore, everyone should feel heard and have their views respected.
7. Make combinations of ideas
During brainstorming, ideas have no owner and must be freely combined and complemented. For example, suppose someone suggested an advertisement with a famous actor and a promotion with an exclusive gift.
In that case, nothing prevents you from joining the two suggestions and creating a promotional campaign starring the soap opera protagonist. That’s the magic of brainstorming: the ability to piece the puzzle together and come up with unexpected solutions.
8. Evaluate the generated ideas
At some point, ideas generated by brainstorming have to filter and evaluated. This should only happen when you have a good volume of relevant suggestions and feel that the session was satisfactory.
Then you can decide whether it’s better to extend the meeting and filter on the spot with the same team or set up another appointment to consolidate ideas and structure the proposal. The choice depends on the project deadline and people’s willingness.
When to do it? Primary uses of brainstorming. Brainstorming is helpful in many situations and applies to any company.
Check out the primary uses of the technique:
- Develop new products and services for a specific target audience
- Improve processes within the company to bring more agility to daily life.
- Create advertising campaigns, promotions, contests, communication pieces, among other marketing demands
- Define personas (semi-fictional characters that represent the company’s ideal customers)
- Find ways to fix process problems and increase productivity
- Find solutions to improve the quality of a product or service
- Have ideas for structuring a new project, including objectives, risks, resources, expected results, etc.
- Identify a new opportunity or market niche.
- Suggest internal actions and HR policies improve engagement and organizational climate.
Among the method’s advantages are:
- Favorable climate for creativity and innovation
- A simple application of the technique
- Productivity of meetings, which generate many ideas in a short time
- Engaging and motivating method, in addition to helping to integrate people.
So, are you ready to do your brainstorming?