Supercharge Your Brainstorming Session (and Turn it Into Something Productive)

Most entrepreneurs have had potentially great ideas “pop” into their heads. While these ideas do not always work out, if we could constantly have those ideas “pop” into our heads we would not need brainstorming sessions. For most of us, brainstorming can be an extremely effective way to come up with new ideas for your business. A typical brainstorming session involves a small team, ideally less than six people, that are free to share any ideas regardless of what position they hold in the company. Brainstorming, in theory, opens up a wide number of ideas that can solve problems and create solutions and opportunities. While this can be a great way to come up with new ideas, if the process is not structured it can dissolve into chaos quickly. Below are some brainstorming techniques for creating successful brainstorming sessions:

Mind Mapping

This is a visual brainstorming tool the was first created by Tony Buzan in the 1960’s. While his original model involved blank paper and colored pencils, today there are many online alternatives. Mind mapping is usually best for solo brainstorming. It is great for breaking down an idea or problem into smaller parts. It then helps you to find the relationships among each individual task. This is a great tool for visual people.

Brainwriting

Instead of brainstorming, some people really believe that “brainwriting” is the better course. While brainstorming is very productive, the introverts can be overlooked. Furthermore, since only one person can speak at a time, some ideas might be missed. When “brainwriting” everyone writes down a certain amount of ideas in a specified amount of time. This process allows everyone to have his and her ideas heard, which can be very productive.

SWOT Analysis

The SWOT analysis, invented at Stanford Research Institute, stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats to your business. This is a team or individual exercise that is really valuable as it breaks down the idea generating sessions into focused areas.

Role-Storming

Like the name suggests, this is a role playing exercise. This allows lower-level employees that might be intimidated to take on the role of high executives and vice versa. It is fun and can get people out of their elements and thinking of new and creative ideas.

Star-Bursting

This process is basically doing brainstorming backwards. You start with an idea and then ask the right questions to accomplish the idea. For example you want to start a new business. A couple of questions can be: who are the customers? How will we take care of the customers? This process gets the brain going and often points out items that would not be thought of in a normal brainstorming session. The bottom line is that brainstorming is very important. You can do it different ways, but how can you make it most effective? Use the ideas above and tailor them to meet the needs of your particular business.
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