Mastering the Art of Brainstorming

How often have you used brainstorming to solve a problem? For years, people have used brainstorming to birth new ideas and to develop creative solutions. At Copy & Art, brainstorming is an essential component of a project kickoff. However, you may not realize the length of its potential. Read on if you’re interested in learning a few brainstorming skills that will help you set the stage for big and bold projects.

Utilize different perspectives and expertise

Though individual brainstorming can be helpful, utilizing the varying perspectives and expertise of numerous people is far more effective. Brainstorming should more often be a team-based activity where people are able to think freely and unload as many spontaneous ideas as possible. We have found that inviting people from other departments with varying levels of experience can add surprisingly effective insight. One with less experience can sometimes suggest a game plan that the higher-ups wrote off as impossible or nonsensical.

Send out the supporting materials and expectations in advance

Think of it like a race. Sure, all the action happens between the starting pistol and the finish line. But it’s the prep work and the training that makes all the difference. As renowned cricket player Sachin Tendulkar put it, “At least with me, the match starts much, much earlier than the actual match.”

Send a project brief—a document outlining the objective and all the information you have about a project—at least one day before the team brainstorm. If some of the materials are too long to include in the brief, make sure the document explains where the team can obtain these resources. Having time to review this information in advance can spark ideas—in many cases, our best ideas pop up as we’re driving home or lying in bed. When your team arrives with ideas already percolating, you’ll get much more out of the meeting.

Assign a leading role

Selecting a good leader to spearhead the brainstorming session cannot be underestimated. A good facilitator should be able to help brainstorming participants express their ideas, so attentiveness and good listening skills are a must. The facilitator should also ensure that all team members have a chance to contribute and prevent participants from interrupting each other. They can also summarize the session output and determine next steps.

Video Conferencing

Break the ice

If you are the one leading the brainstorm, an icebreaker is an exercise or game designed to casually introduce members of a team to each other and warm up the group for the session. Ice breakers are especially beneficial for remote teams, when team members don’t know each other well or haven’t met in person. There are many ways to break the ice, but we find that humor is the best way to relax and connect a group of people whether they’re in the same room or half a world away. My personal favorite icebreaker is to ask your team to imagine aliens have landed on Earth and want to learn about your company. Since they don’t speak English or understand your product, have each team member describe your company’s product or culture with five symbols or pictures. This one is bound to produce a few laughs and the team will be ready to take the brainstorm to the next level.

Set a timer

Once you’ve done the prepping and broken the ice, it’s time to say, “Here’s the challenge, here’s the deadline, let’s brainstorm—I’m turning on the timer.”

GO ABOVE AND BEYOND

If you could use a team to help you brainstorm and elevate your business to the next level, email us at hello@copyandartny.com or call (914) 607-7888

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