Great products come from great ideas. But great ideas rarely come out of nowhere. They need to be triggered by creative exploration. Without a spark of inspiration, even the most brilliant minds can find it challenging to come up with groundbreaking ideas. This is where brainstorming comes into play.
But putting together a group of individuals in a room and asking them to come up with brilliant ideas isn’t always the most effective solution, either. In a world that’s changing faster than ever, the old ways of brainstorming might not cut it anymore.
We need brainstorming techniques that push us beyond the usual limits so we can match the pace of innovation. In this article, we’ll explain why it’s time to implement new, creative methods to brainstorming ideas and go over a few of them.
Why It’s Time to Brainstorm Ideas Differently
As the world keeps changing, new problems keep emerging. Yet, many companies are still using old methods to solve problems, which don't apply well to these new challenges.
To tackle new problems effectively, companies need to start looking at innovation as a creative approach to finding solutions. This means looking beyond just using new tools or technologies and instead focusing on adopting new ways of thinking - including new ways of brainstorming.
By applying old brainstorming methods to new problems, you risk rushing into generating as many ideas as possible without proper preparation and the right environment. The Pepsi ad campaign “Live For Now” from 2017 is a perfect example of how this can lead to a complete fiasco. In Pepsi’s case, rushing into this ad’s idea resulted in a global backlash and ended up shattering the brand's reputation.
This shows how important it is to welcome new methods of brainstorming ideas when dealing with modern problems. It's especially important now that diversity and the different points of view it brings are becoming more and more essential in handling the challenges of today's world.
For this reason, it’s crucial to implement creative methods into your brainstorming sessions. Albert Einstein put it this way, “creativity is intelligence having fun.” And when it comes to creatively brainstorming ideas, the challenge your team will face is letting go of old thinking patterns that are strongly embedded into the business environment.
Examples of Creative Approaches to Brainstorming Ideas
The most innovative solutions to problems stem from out-of-the-box thinking inspired by the most unusual problem-solving methods. Now, the challenge is: how to brainstorm ideas using creative approaches that go beyond the traditional brainstorming rules?
Let’s take a look at 8 creative approaches to brainstorming ideas.
Try Reverse Thinking
Reverse brainstorming is precisely that: brainstorming backwards. Typically, brainstorming techniques have participants find a solution to a problem. Reverse brainstorming does the opposite and has the participants come up with ways to cause the problem.
By working backwards, you’re able to dissect the problem further than you typically would. Reverse brainstorming prompts you to see the issue from perspectives you’d normally ignore, leading to more innovative and comprehensive solutions.
Use Visualization to Inspire New Ideas
Visualization is a powerful tool that can inspire new ideas and help you see problems from different angles. It lets your memories and imagination work together to form new connections and ideas in your mind.
To start implementing visualization into your brainstorming sessions, you can start with creating a mood board. A mood board is a collection of images, colors, textures, and other visual elements that represent a concept, idea, or theme. It helps brainstorming by giving you pictures to spark emotions and feelings that can fuel your creativity.
💡 Another visualization-based brainstorming technique is the eidetic image method. This method consists of setting an intention and guiding your team to close their eyes and imagine how to enhance a current product. This method is better suited for improving existing products rather than reinventing the wheel.
Imagine Being Someone Else
Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes is a great way to see things from a different perspective. That’s why role-playing brainstorming methods can give you new ideas you might not have thought of before.
For instance, two role-playing brainstorming methods you can try are figure-storming and role-storming.
Figure-storming consists of having participants put themselves in the shoes of a famous figure and ask what that person would do to solve the problem at hand.
Role-storming consists of having participants take on different personalities and act out these roles to come up with ideas.
Try a Radical Change of Scenery
How many times have you had a great idea pop into your mind while walking? In a report on the effect of walking on creative thinking, researchers found that it’s not the walking that inspires our creativity but rather the change of scenery.
So, to inspire effective brainstorming, invite your team to a different location. This shift can break their usual routine and ignite excitement. You could even try physical activities to inspire bold thinking and out-of-the-box ideas.
Follow the Randomness
Sometimes, your team may not know where to start pulling their ideas from. In this case, you can use the random word picker technique. As the name suggests, it starts out by putting random words into a container, picking them out, and talking about how they connect to your topic.
You can use a template to note your thoughts and new ideas from this word game. To make it more organized, you can also group similar words together (word banking) and find links between those groups and your topic.
Use a Drawing Board
Drawing is a great activity to trigger our creativity. Even something that may seem insignificant, as doodling, can awaken our creativity and lead to innovative ideas.
Sunni Brown, the author of “The Doodle Revolution” and a teacher of applied visual thinking, claims that doodling fires up our neurons and expands the mind.
Same goes for storyboarding. Drawing your problems on a board (either physical or digital) can help you dissect the problem and come up with potential solutions. And if you draw those solutions on the board too, it can help you visualize possible roadblocks when implementing the solution.
Use Freewriting to Brainstorm Ideas
As many writers will tell you, freewriting is an excellent technique to improve your writing and come up with a storyline of a novel or an outline of an article. It’s an exercise where the writer starts writing on a specific topic and doesn’t stop to think, correct themselves, or edit what they wrote.
However, freewriting can also be used in brainstorming, as it can help you put your thoughts on paper.
💡 While freewriting is very messy and unstructured, it creates a trail of thoughts born in the moment, where each new thought builds on the previous one, eventually leading to great ideas.
Hire an Agency to Facilitate Brainstorming
Running an efficient brainstorming session isn’t always easy. When leading a brainstorming meeting, you might face several challenges, such as keeping everyone engaged and focused, managing conflicts and criticism, and ensuring that the discussion doesn't go off-topic.
Knowing various creative methods of brainstorming ideas can help you manage those challenges more effectively. Yet, you can also turn to agencies that specialize in facilitating and organizing effective brainstorming sessions.
These agencies have experienced professionals who are skilled at guiding discussions, incorporating diverse techniques, and creating a friendly and collaborative atmosphere. This external support can bring the expertise you need to improve the outcomes of your brainstorming sessions.