Brainstorming Techniques for New Ideas
By Brian Hazelgren
What is Brainstorming?
Brainstorming is an incredible tool that all executives should engage in with their team on a regular basis. In just a few short minutes a day, you can literally create new ideas that will move your company to the next level of success…or even start a new industry.
Brainstorming is the name given to a situation in which a group of people meets to generate new ideas around a specific area of interest. Using rules that remove inhibitions, people are able to think more freely and move into new areas of thought and, therefore, create numerous new ideas and solutions. The participants shout out ideas as they occur to them and then build on the ideas raised by others. All the ideas are noted down and are not criticized. Only when the brainstorming session is over are the ideas evaluated. This is the traditional way brainstorming is done. The aim of this article is to provide you with the methods of traditional brainstorming and then to move on to the next level and introduce a series of advanced techniques.
Some other definitions:
- Brainstorming is a process for generating new ideas.
- Brainstorming is a technique by which a group attempts to find a solution for a specific problem by amassing all the ideas spontaneously by its members.
- To brainstorm is to use a set of specific rules and techniques which encourage and spark off new ideas which would never have happened under normal circumstances.
- Brainstorming is a fun way to unlock all those exciting ideas that a group may have buried in their minds, but are too busy to think about.
- Brainstorming will help you come up with new ideas. Not only will you come up with new ideas, but you will do so with surprisingly little effort. Brainstorming makes the generation of new ideas easy and is a tried-and-tested process. Exactly to what you apply brainstorming techniques depends on what you want to achieve. You can apply them to develop new products, services and processes in your job, or you can apply them to develop your personal life.
You can think of this as either a holistic experience if you are naturally creative; or, if you are naturally logical, you can think of it as a process of following logical rules that will stimulate your mind to think of a problem from a different angle.
Naturally, there are techniques and environments that suit certain people better than others but brainstorming is flexible enough to be able to suit everyone. Whether you do brainstorming with a group of excited colleagues or you do advanced brainstorming by yourself in an isolated room will be up to your personal preference and circumstance. Both will be successful if you read and follow the process described here.
The history and use of brainstorming begins in 1941. Alex Osborn, an advertising executive, found that conventional business meetings were inhibiting the creation of new ideas and proposed some rules designed to help stimulate creative thinking. He was looking for rules that would give people the freedom of mind and action to generate and reveal new ideas. To “think up” was the original term he used to describe the process he developed and that, in turn, came to be known as “brainstorming.” The rules he came up with are the following:
- No criticism of ideas.
- Go for large quantities of ideas.
- Build on each others ideas.
- Encourage wild and exaggerated ideas.
He found that, when these rules were followed, a lot more ideas were created; and that a greater quantity of original ideas gave rise to a greater quantity of useful ideas. Quantity produced quality.
Using these new rules, people’s natural inhibitions were reduced, inhibitions which previously had prevented them from putting forward ideas which they felt might be considered “wrong” or “stupid.” Osborn also found that generating “silly” ideas could spark very useful ideas because they changed the way people thought.