Our team took votes on our top 5 activities to enhance brainstorming.
If you’re trying to design a process, storyboarding can help you see where your collective understanding of a problem supports or conflicts with a proposed solution, and where more thought/research is needed. By developing a visual story to explore the problem at hand as a narrative, your team will be able to see how ideas interact and connect to form a solution.
One of the major drawbacks to the traditional brainstorming approach is that too many people hold back out of fear of their ideas will be judged. Brain writing circumvents this problem by having everyone write their ideas down on a piece of paper. Each paper is then passed on to the person next to them, who builds on the original idea with their own. After a few rounds, gather the papers and read anonymously for the team to discuss. This accomplishes two things: everyone has a chance to submit an idea, and everyone’s ideas are given equal consideration.
Write down a central problem that your audience is trying to solve. Then hand a stack of sticky notes to each member of your team (give them way more than you think they’ll need). Set a timer for two minutes and have everyone, including you, write as many solutions to that problem as they can think of. Don’t worry if the ideas are original, or clever, or even realistic — you just want as many ideas as possible. When time is up, have one person start reading their ideas, placing each sticky note on the wall or a whiteboard. If someone else from the group has the same or similar idea, group these sticky notes together. Once you’ve gone through all the sticky notes, ask for any other ideas. Someone may be inspired by something they see on the wall.
Mind mapping is a visual tool for enhancing the brainstorming process. In essence, you’re drawing a picture of the relationships among and between ideas. Start by writing down your goal or challenge and ask participants to think of related issues. Layer by layer, add content to your map so that you can visually see how, for example, a problem with the telephone system is contributing to issues with quarterly income. Because it’s become so popular, it’s easy to find mind mapping software online. The reality, though, is that a large piece of paper and a few markers can also do the job.
Start by sharing the brainstorming challenge with everyone in the room. Then send everyone out of the room to think about the challenge—except two people. Allow the two people in the room to come up with ideas for a short period of time, and then allow just one more person to enter the room. Ask the new person to share their ideas with the first two before discussing the ideas already generated. After a few minutes ask another person to come in, and then another. In the long run, everyone will be back in the room—and everyone will have had a chance to share his or her ideas with colleagues.
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