Traditional brainstorming consists of a group of people who meet to generate new ideas around a specific area of interest.
The idea is to spark creativity by removing inhibitions and encouraging members of the brainstorming session to think freely. Brainstorming sessions often involve participants shouting out ideas as they occur and then building on the ideas introduced by others.
In reality, a business brainstorming session can either be productive or a total waste of time depending in large part on the level of participation among the participants. The biggest problem with brainstorming is only a few people do 60-75% of the talking. This bias, often called “anchoring,” can often prevent other fresh ideas from coming to light.
There are ways around this.
One technique known as brain writing is all about separating idea generation from discussion. This is accomplished by the group’s leader sharing the topic with the team then telling everyone to write down their ideas. This approach circumvents individual domination of ideas and allows everyone to get their thoughts “out there.”
It also gives everyone more time to think over their ideas, which is especially helpful for more introverted participants. This brainstorming technique works best for teams inordinately influenced by the first ideas presented during a meeting.
When your team is brainstorming ideas individually, away from distraction and public opinion, you generate concepts that may not naturally surface in a larger setting. Individual brainstorming techniques like this will often give you more unique ideas than when the group comes up with topic ideas together.
Another approach to consider is online brainstorming (brain-netting), especially in light of businesses becoming more virtual.
For effective brain-netting, experts recommend creating a central location online where members of a brainstorming team can collaborate. Something like a cloud-based document storage or an online collaboration tool works well. An online mind-mapping tool comes highly recommended for a virtual staff because this application facilitates answering very specific questions or generating ideas tangential to the main problem.
Want to learn more about effective brainstorming? Tonex offers Brainstorming Training, a 2-day course that introduces participants to the concepts, methods, and tactics of conventional and advanced brainstorming techniques.