Business brainstorming techniques: Tips for effective brainstorming
When your business needs to solve a problem, come up with a new slogan, or develop a new product, it’s best to dedicate as much time to brainstorming as possible. Brainstorming, or “ideation” if you want to be more technical, leads to better project management, more innovation, and better team performance. It might even help your company discover hidden potential it didn’t know it had.
You never see a billboard that says “just think it.” You never hear someone say “quit talking about it and just think it!”
But what these motivational quotes are missing is the fact that dedicating time to thinking helps you do things better. Actually, it can be a valuable tool to help your business solve problems.
Fully exploring the “solution space” makes you better prepared, more creative, and more innovative. Whether your company is looking to smooth out its internal processes, create a new campaign, or just decide which flavor of K-cup to get for the coffee machine, ideation is the way to go.
Here’s how to brainstorm the right way.
Note: The “solution space” is a math term for the set of all possible solutions to a problem. It translates to business seamlessly. In it, you might even find that you’ve been focusing on the wrong solution all along. By exploring the solution space, Disney revamped their ABC Family website and increased engagement by 600%!
The benefits of brainstorming
Before you start brainstorming, let’s cover why you should. Businesses that dedicate time to solving their problems benefit from:
- Smoother processes
- More innovative ideas
- Better team morale and cooperation
- Higher individual productivity
- Less bureaucracy and paperwork
It goes without saying that better project management has real dollar value. For every $1 billion dollars invested, $122 million is wasted due to poor project performance. That’s directly related to companies not taking the time to think things through and plan.
Brainstorming techniques that actually work
A great brainstorming session has the ability to set a new course for your company, but can easily be thrown off track. Here are a few brainstorming techniques that ensure you get results.
Explore horizontally, not vertically:
Let us explain. We mean to explore broadly. Before you start digging deeper and deeper into one or two popular ideas, take in a lot of basic ones. This is to make sure that you don’t waste the entire session on one concept that doesn’t end up panning out.
Walk in someone else’s shoes:
An out-of-body experience can help each team member come up with more creative solutions. Pretending we are someone else helps us see things from a new perspective and get past our personal bias. A great brainstorm activity is to pick roles out of a hat and be that person for the solution. For example, write down “president of the USA, CEO of Apple, or 1920’s oil tycoon” on slips of paper and have everyone pick.
Our brains tend to focus on ideas introduced at the beginning of meetings. To avoid this, try brain writing. Brainwriting is when the leader introduces a topic and each member writes ideas down individually and shares them. Immediacy bias can torpedo meetings with good intentions straight to the bottom of the ocean.
Use collaborative tools:
Brainstorming isn’t any less important for virtual teams, so collaborative tools are an absolute must. A virtual meeting isn’t the best way to go about brainstorming, though. The best way to approach these situations is to have each member write their ideas down in a shared document and for the team to meet after reviewing the information and picking a direction. There are plenty of tools you can use to make online collaboration simple and effective. Soda PDF allows you to create docs, set security measures so only your team can access your docs, and have a central location where all ideas are stored.
In the end, effective brainstorming boils down to collaboration. Putting as many heads together as possible is the way to go. Give everyone a chance to contribute and explore the solution space as comprehensively as possible before moving more deeply into solutions. The best way to do it is through better brainstorming techniques and better brainstorming tools.
Want to try a great collaboration tool? Try Soda PDF!