Have you ever had a brainstorming session that just didn’t go anywhere? Maybe no one felt comfortable speaking up; maybe the wrong people did. Maybe it devolved into an argument, with one or two people holding firm to a single idea and everyone else trying to talk them out of it. Whatever the specific creative brainstorming techniques employed, we can bet it dragged on for hours, long past when you thought you would be done. Moreover, it left you no closer to a concrete plan than you were when you started. If any of that sounds familiar, you are not alone. Here are some creative brainstorming techniques that experts think you might be doing wrong.
Lacking organization. Because brainstorming meetings are about equality, with everyone’s ideas having equal validity, some people see it as counterproductive to appoint a leader. However, well-known business writer Scott Berkun thinks that, like in any other meeting, every brainstorming meeting should have one senior manager or at least an agreed-upon primus inter pares. If your meeting has no one with authority to delegate, it might become an argument over who has to take notes in the first five minutes. Worse, you might come up with good ideas, but never agree on whose job it is to execute them.
Thinking outside the box (because you do not know where the box is). Consultant and business professor Ralph Keeney believes brainstorming should be targeted, not a tool to find a target. He recommends beginning by defining the problem you want to solve and what you want the solution to accomplish. Then, and only then, should you start spitballing suggestions for a solution.
Listing your solutions. Making a list of all available ideas is a good place to start, but having a list like your final product before you put the ideas to a vote may be a mistake. A list creates the illusion that all of the ideas are separate, which isn’t always the case. Researcher Frans Johansson wrote that the human mind could usually find commonalities and connections between a series of items, given serious thought. Try to find the unifying thread that connects your solutions, and see if that gives you any new insight.
To learn more about effective creative brainstorming techniques, contact the marketing research consultants at New Perspectives. We can help you understand your quantitative and qualitative marketing efforts.