Brainstorming is a very creative process but you’ve got to follow the rules to really make it work: it’s crucial that everyone suspends all judgement. Every half-baked notion is useful, because it might spark a great idea in someone else’s mind.
To make brainstorming even more powerful, there are many variations that lift us out of our old habitual ways of thinking. Some of my favourites include ‘Reversing the problem’ and ‘Similes’. I like dipping into Paul Sloane‘s recent e-book, ‘How to Generate Ideas’, for different methods.
I recently worked out a new variation – Be An Evil Genius. It’s a lot of fun, a great icebreaker, and it gets some really inspiring thoughts out into the open (which can be used for good, not evil!)
The group imagine themselves as Evil Geniuses and then brainstorm what ‘superpowers’ they could give the solutions to their problem. For example if they’re trying to think of new ideas for a product, they might give the product superpowers like time travel, telepathy, invisibility….the list is endless, and there’s plenty of inspiration from recent movies and TV shows that feature characters with superpowers.
Having had a look at the collection of superpowers the Evil Geniuses have developed, we can then revert to normal (or Good Geniuses) and take each individual superpower as inspiration for brainstorming the next stage – what advantage did that superpower provide? How else might we gain that advantage in real life?
Each time I’ve used it, groups have become animated very quickly, with everyone keen to join in. In that way it creates a brilliant atmosphere for further brainstorming to draw out some really promising ideas.
If you use brainstorming techniques I’d love to know what you think of this – try it out and tell me how it goes!