How To Brainstorm Creative Ideas?

Picture this: you receive a meeting invitation with the word “brainstorm” in the subject line. What’s your immediate reaction? Dread? Eye roll? Panic-induced stomach ache? For many of us, brainstorming sessions have become synonymous with unproductive chaos. But fear not, my fellow idea adventurers. There are many ways to turn those “meh” brainstorming sessions into epic idea-generating powerhouses.


In this article, I’ll break down the essentials of brainstorming and share the best methods for you to try. From rules of brainstorming to additional tips and more, you’ll discover the best approach to stimulate your team’s creativity and achieve your project goals.


But hold on, let me take a step back. Let’s get to the basics first.


What Is Brainstorming?

Brainstorming – it’s a simple concept but packs a potent punch. It’s an essential tool for generating a cascade of creative solutions to any challenge you’re facing. It utilizes the collective expertise and imaginative prowess of your team, fostering collaboration to cultivate truly innovative ideas.


The process is straightforward, just as the definition: assemble a group of individuals and encourage them to produce as many ideas as possible, regardless of how unconventional they may seem. There’s no such thing as a bad idea during brainstorming – the aim is to generate a volume of ideas, even if some initially appear to be far-fetched.

The Benefits Of Brainstorming

Whether you are looking to find innovative solutions to current challenges or simply hoping to spark creativity, brainstorming can be a game-changing technique for idea generation. Check out a few more benefits of Brainstorming.

  1. Better Ideas

First off, brainstorming in a company setting often leads to a bunch of incredible ideas. It’s like a creative explosion that kicks in when diverse minds collide. Let’s face it, two heads (or ten) are indeed better than one. You never know who might come up with the next million-dollar idea during a session. These fruitful discussions can lead to inventive solutions, game-changing products, or even paradigm-shifting services.

  1. Breaks Down Communication Barriers

In case you haven’t noticed, communication can be a pretty big deal in a company. Here’s where brainstorming swoops in to save the day. It’s like a magical potion that breaks down those pesky barriers among different departments or levels. Everyone has a voice, from the intern to the big boss, encouraging a free flow of thoughts and ideas. It’s like a roundtable discussion where everyone gets a chance to shine and contribute.

  1. Boosts Team Spirit

If you’ve ever been in a good brainstorming session, you’ll know how it can really ramp up the team spirit. It’s an “all for one, one for all” kinda vibe. When you’re collectively working towards a shared goal, it strengthens the bonds and relationships among the team. Everyone feels more connected, more invested, and that can only be a good thing for the company culture.

  1. Develops Problem-Solving Skills

Brainstorming is an amazing problem-solving boot camp. It’s like a gym workout for your brain where you’re constantly flexing those creative muscles. By taking part in these sessions, folks across the company get a chance to develop and hone their problem-solving skills. They learn to look at challenges from different angles, think outside the box, and navigate the path from problem to solution.

  1. Encourages Risk-Taking

You know that saying about not knowing until you try? That’s pretty much the essence of brainstorming. It encourages a culture of risk-taking, a”throw-it-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks” mentality. There’s no such thing as a bad idea in brainstorming – it’s all about experimenting and seeing what works. This not only leads to innovative solutions but also helps to foster a progressive, forward-thinking atmosphere in the company.

What Are The Rules Of Brainstorming?


Don’t: Kick things off with a group huddle

Do: Let individual ideas simmer before they boil


Here’s the usual scenario – we dive headfirst into a brainstorming session, gathering everyone in one room and firing off ideas from the get-go. But hey, let’s put a pin in that for a moment, shall we?


Take it from the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. This compelling read underlines why group brainstorming might not be the golden ticket to creativity we often assume it to be.


Cain suggests, “In our zeal for collaboration, we’ve veered into the territory of groupthink, often underestimating the power of solitude in the creative process… The loudest voices in a group can overshadow others, leading to conformity and a false consensus. Unfettered creativity often finds its roots in quiet introspection.”


So here’s a thought – how about letting your team marinate on their ideas solo before bringing them into the group forum? This can give everyone ample space to noodle on their thoughts independently and without external influences. By allowing these individual ideas to flourish in their own time, you pave the way for a richer, more diverse brainstorming session when everyone finally comes together.


Don’t: Cage creativity with rules and restrictions

Do: Encourage a free-flowing, judgement-free idea exchange


You might be scratching your head and thinking, “Aren’t you stating the rules of brainstorming and yet advocating for a rule-free environment? Isn’t that an oxymoron?” Well, here’s the deal – the essence of brainstorming is to unshackle your creative spirit, not to bind it with preconceived notions and norms.


If there’s one golden rule you should stand by, it’s this – foster an environment where everyone feels free to speak their mind without fear of critique or dismissive remarks. Words like “That’s a terrible idea” have no place in your brainstorming space. Too many rules can stunt creative growth and discourage your team from exploring the full spectrum of possibilities.


Don’t: Quash ideas on arrival

Do: Ensure every voice contributes to the creative chorus


It’s all too easy to dismiss ideas that seem too outlandish or unfeasible. But let’s be honest, that’s not how brainstorming should roll.


Given our natural inclination towards social approval, people can shy away from voicing their ideas, especially bold and unconventional ones. So, the crux of brainstorming is to lend an ear to everyone – yes, even those seemingly wild and ‘out there’ suggestions (because, let’s face it, sometimes these turn out to be absolute gems).


To maintain this judgment-free zone, consider having everyone present their thoughts before the floodgates of feedback are opened. This approach, often referred to as Round Robin Brainstorming, helps level the playing field. It tempers the voices that tend to monopolize the conversation and encourages the more reserved participants to share their insights


Don’t: Obsess over the brilliance of each idea

Do: Aim for a whirlwind of idea generation


In most aspects of life, we’re often taught to prioritize quality over quantity. For instance, when crafting an article, the focus is on the depth and relevance of the content, not the word count. But when it comes to brainstorming, we flip the script.


During a brainstorming session, the goal is to churn out as many ideas as possible, at breakneck speed. Let’s reiterate – there are no ‘bad ideas’ in this realm. Every thought has the potential to spark the next big thing.


This approach, known as rapid ideation, is all about fostering a high-speed, judgement-free idea factory. It’s about plunging into the vast ocean of creativity without worrying about striking the ‘perfect’ idea. This gives your team the freedom to traverse all corners of the imaginative landscape, without any constraints or fear of failure.


Don’t: Cherry-pick ideas to document

Do: Put everything on record


As is customary in most meetings, note-taking is vital. This principle holds true for brainstorming sessions as well. But here’s the twist – your aim shouldn’t be to capture only the ‘good’ ideas or the ‘feasible’ ones. Resist the urge to zoom in on the ‘winner’ idea too soon – there’ll be plenty of time for sifting and sorting later.


Assign a designated scribe from your team to keep track of all ideas sprouting in the session. You could use a classic notepad or a digital tool like Asana or Trello, which allows everyone to see the ideas bloom in real-time. This ensures no idea goes unnoticed or unrecorded, and anyone can chime in if they feel something’s been missed.

What Are The Methods Of Brainstorming?

5 Whys Analysis

Imagine being bombarded with a never-ending stream of “Why?” questions from a curious toddler. As exasperating as it may be, that toddler is actually onto something valuable. Developed by Taiichi Ohno, the 5 Whys analysis gained popularity at Toyota as a powerful tool for getting to the core of a problem.


Unlike more rigid problem-solving methods, the beauty of the 5 Whys lies in its simplicity: repeatedly asking “why” to uncover the underlying causes of an obstacle or setback. Whether used individually or in a group setting, this technique fosters open dialogue and sparks fresh ideas. Each “why” builds upon the answer to the previous one, gradually revealing the true root cause.


To effectively track the chain of “whys” and their corresponding answers, flowcharts and fishbone diagrams can be invaluable visual aids. They provide a clear and organized way to navigate through the layers of inquiry and arrive at actionable insights.


When it comes to brainwriting, each person in the group gets to anonymously jot down a bunch of ideas on sticky notes or index cards. The cool thing about keeping it anonymous is that it prevents any biases or favoritism. Plus, it gives a chance for the quieter folks to jump in and contribute their thoughts.


The result? You end up with a whole bunch of ideas that might not have come up if you were brainstorming as a group. Then, you mix things up by randomly sharing those ideas with the rest of the team. They get to give feedback and offer critiques on each idea. Alternatively, you can have a team leader or management team collect and sort the ideas.


The whole point of brainwriting is to separate the idea-generation phase from the discussion. That way, you get a fresh and unbiased perspective on each idea. It’s all about creating an open and creative space where everyone’s ideas can shine.


Imagine you’re a curious reporter, determined to uncover all the essential details of a captivating story. That’s exactly what the starbursting method of brainstorming is all about. It prompts you to explore the who, what, where, when, why, and how of any new idea or concept.


To start, place your main idea right at the center of a cool star diagram. Then, assign each point of the star with those 5WH questions. It’s like giving your idea a star-studded treatment!


Now, get ready to dive deep. For each point on the star, come up with a bunch of juicy questions that revolve around your idea. Let one question lead to another, and soon enough, you’ll find yourself building a solid strategy based on the answers to those questions. It’s like unraveling a thrilling mystery—one question triggers another, and the pieces start falling into place.


starbursting template

Mind mapping

When it comes to brainstorming, capturing every single idea can feel like chasing butterflies in the wind. That’s where mind mapping swoops in to save the day! It’s like a cool and creative diagram that helps you catch all those swirling ideas, ensuring that nothing slips through the cracks.


Here’s how it works: Begin by placing a central topic or question right in the middle of your mind map. It’s like the heart of your brainstorming session. From there, let your thoughts branch out in all directions, like little tendrils of creativity. Each participant’s ideas can find a home on those branches, creating a beautiful web of interconnected thoughts.


If you want to take your mind mapping game to the digital realm, you can easily find online templates or browse through a gallery of options. These templates make it super convenient to create your own mind map and keep everything organized.

Rolestorming/figure storming

Sometimes it’s incredibly valuable to see things from a different angle. That’s where rolestorming comes into play. It encourages you to explore alternative viewpoints by imagining how someone else would approach a challenge. Another similar technique called figure storming takes it a step further by inviting you to put yourself in the shoes of a famous figure from any field or time period.


Let’s say you’re working in a marketing team. You could ask yourselves, “How would Steve Jobs tackle this problem?” By channelling his visionary mindset and innovative approach, you can generate unique and groundbreaking ideas. 

Gap filling

Imagine you’re on a journey, and you need to bridge the gap between your current location and your desired destination. That’s the essence of gap filling, also known as gap analysis. It’s a problem-solving technique that involves identifying the existing state and the desired end goal, and then figuring out the actionable steps to close that gap.


So, how do you get from “here” to “there”? That’s the key question in gap analysis. It prompts you to explore and discover the workable solutions needed to reach your objective. It’s like plotting a roadmap to success.


To help visualize and organize your gap analysis, you can utilize tools like flowcharts or mind maps. These handy visual aids allow you to create a grid where you mark your current state on one end and the ideal state on the other. This provides a clear picture of what you’re aiming for and where you currently stand. The magic happens in the middle, where team members can contribute their ideas to fill the gap. It’s a collaborative process that encourages innovation and problem-solving.


Brain-netting has emerged as a game-changer that leverages the power of technology to enhance creativity and idea generation. Unlike relying solely on email communication, which can be time-consuming and formal, brain-netting takes brainstorming to a whole new level. With this approach, participants utilize virtual collaboration software to share their ideas in real time. The beauty of it is that ideas can be saved and stored within a cloud-based platform or the collaboration software itself, ensuring that nothing gets lost in the shuffle.


The process of virtual collaboration in brain-netting can vary depending on the team. It could start with a team leader posing a broad question like, “What do we want our customers to experience?” and then inviting teammates to contribute their responses. Alternatively, teams may employ other brainstorming techniques mentioned earlier, such as rolestorming, reverse brainstorming, or rapid ideation, within the virtual collaboration platform.


brainstorming board example

SWOT Analysis

SWOT analysis isn’t your typical brainstorming technique—it’s actually a strategic planning exercise that helps evaluate various aspects of a product, project, person, or business. However, incorporating a SWOT mindset into your brainstorming sessions can be incredibly valuable. Let’s break it down:


Strengths: Consider how your product, project, or business excels and stands out from the competition. What unique advantages do you have? Identify your strengths and capitalize on them.

Weaknesses: Be honest and identify the flaws or areas that need improvement. What aspects could potentially jeopardize your success? By recognizing weaknesses, you can develop strategies to overcome them and mitigate any risks.

Opportunities: Explore the potential opportunities that exist in the market or industry. What trends, changes, or gaps could you leverage? Look for ways to seize these opportunities and make the most of them.

Threats: Identify the potential challenges and threats that could impact your product, project, or business. What external factors or competitors pose a risk? Understanding these threats allows you to develop strategies to mitigate or overcome them.


During your brainstorming session, allocate time to delve into each SWOT category. Encourage your teammates to contribute their thoughts and insights, and capture them on a SWOT matrix—a simple grid that allows you to visualize the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This exercise will provide a comprehensive view of your situation and guide your brainstorming efforts in a strategic direction.


Brainstorming transcends mere ideation; it is an immersive experience that ignites our creative faculties and enhances our innate curiosity. By fostering curiosity, we gain the ability to perceive the world from diverse vantage points, beyond our own limited perspectives. This, in turn, cultivates our capacity for critical thinking, resulting in an expansion of our cognitive abilities and the growth of our intellectual prowess.


By following these brainstorming tips, you can encourage innovative ideas within your team and then you can choose one best idea for your next project/campaign or product launch. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *