3 min read

Brainstorming Techniques

Brainstorming Techniques

Photo by Helloquence

Brainstorming, by definition, is a method of generating possible solutions to existing problems by accumulating large quantities of data. Individuals and groups alike use brainstorming techniques to dissertate concepts and creative ideas.

Alex Osborn, an advertising executive, and the team he led in 1939 are known to have coined the term “brainstorming.” Osborn created a ground rule for his team: ideas were not allowed to be discussed until there were no more ideas that could be suggested by the group. The creative environment wasn’t stifled and all ideas were considered to be relevant during the entire brainstorming session. It was only at the end when ideas were evaluated by the team. This proved to be a productive method of discerning solutions considered to be innovative.

Pen To Paper or Stylus to Tablet

The old fashioned way, pen to paper, is meant to be a writing exercise where one sits down for a predetermined time, usually 10 to 20-minute sessions, and writes every thought down. Grammar, punctuation, misspellings and formatting are often overlooked due to these things being nonessential to this particular brainstorming exercise.

There is only one rule to follow - even if you struggle to think of ideas to write down, write “I will think of a new idea soon.” By following this outlined process, creative ideas will present themselves and then you can write them down. The reason being, is that your brain is a muscle. It requires routine exercise to perform at its best. Brainstorming in this format is a helpful tool for everyone as it exercises the brain.

Pen to Paper

Reverse Brainstorming

Brainstorming reversal techniques encourage creative thought by solving problems in reverse. Rather than considering problems and how to fix them, reverse brainstorming asks “What causes a specific problem?” This technique is often used by UX (user experience) designers.

The process of reverse brainstorming is as follows:

  • Write down the identified problem
  • Brainstorm every potential reverse solution
  • Alter the reverse solutions in order to create positive outcomes
  • Analyze the data and test plausible solutions

Reverse brainstorming

Word Associations or Word Storming

Take into consideration words that describe projects. Make a list of these words. Then go further by writing down descriptive words associated to those on your recently created list. Categories should then be easily created to visualize a word storm. Digital marketers sometimes use this method of brainstorming to create brand specific content to convey ideas to their target market.


Mind Mapping

Mind mapping is a popular brainstorming method for those who prefer visual data instead of written lists. Mind map diagrams are segmented ideas that branch into subsequent or associated ideas, all stemming from one primary idea.

To create a mind map diagram follow these steps:

  • Create a topical image or phrase and place it in the center
  • Choose specific keywords and place on individually connecting lines
  • Add your own style with multiple colors and images or a combination

A mind map example

Contrary to most things in life, the key to effective brainstorming is not quality. It is quantity. Yes, quantity. Brainstorming techniques can be accomplished in several ways. There isn’t a wrong way or a right way. Consider it to be the early stage of research and development, regardless of what type of project you apply it to. Remember to be open to all ideas as that leads to several valid ideas generated. When done right, brainstorming can expand general understandings and strengthen developmental processes.

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