September 26, 2013

5 Ways To Brainstorm Better

The social space is loud, fast, and demanding of innovation. Brands must pivot quickly in reaction to public or company-related events. Additionally, updates to social media platforms suddenly require an entire shift in brand communication strategy.

But how brands respond is often too hurried and disorganized. We can all picture the scene: A group of time-poor employees, piled into an over-crowded room, reluctantly required to dust off their brains. The wall is littered with an array of Post-it notes, and the person with the worst handwriting in the office is armed with the whiteboard marker. Does this sound like a situation conducive to creative ideas?

Below are five simple ways to get the most out of your brainstorms:

1. Set The Direction

The reasons a lot of brainstorms fail, is because of a lack of focus. Without clearly stated objectives, it’s easy for the session to quickly get off track. Even if everybody is familiar with the project, it is important to lay out the purpose of the thinking from the outset. Being careful not to limit or direct the thinking down a particular pathway, ask yourself a couple of key questions: What is the purpose of our thinking? What do we want to achieve at the end of our thinking? Use these questions as the basis for setting the direction of your creative session.

2. Get Out Of The Office

One thing that really stifles creativity, is monotony. The same beige-colored walls, the same uncomfortable chairs, the same view out of the window. By removing yourself from your daily office inhabitance, you will instantly open up new channels of inspiration. Different surroundings arouse different senses, and these stimulate the right part of the brain. And you don’t need to pack up the office and go interstate for this. Simply walking down the street and sitting in a park can make a good brainstorm become great.

3. Write Before You Speak

One of the biggest inhibitors of group brainstorming, is that the loudest voices are always the ones heard. This can lead to complacency amongst the group, allowing people to sit back and let others take control. When called upon, these people often mimic others’ ideas, and are too afraid to speak for themselves for fear of rejection. If every person is instead given time to write their ideas down, the outcome is often more diverse, and the results are of greater value than from those with dominant personalities.

4. Mix It Up

Quite often, people of the same age, with the same interests, think the same way. This is why it is extremely important to diversify brainstorms as much as you can. In an office environment, to ensure a wide variety of ideas, choose people from different backgrounds, with varied business acumen. These people are likely to have each had wide-ranging life experiences and can offer unique perspectives and noteworthy insights into the topic being brainstormed.

5. Sleep On It

Just like a writer suffers from writer’s block, even the world’s most creative minds fail to think up that award-winning idea on the first go. In a keynote speech delivered in Belgium, John Cleese, the English actor, comedian and writer, spoke of his own creative obstacles. After getting stuck writing a comedy sketch one night, he stopped and went to bed. Upon waking, he went on to say that “not only was the solution to this problem immediately apparent to me, but I couldn’t even remember what the problem had been the previous night.” Cleese theorizes that his ‘unconscious mind’ continued to work, long after he had stopped.

Often, escaping the problem you’re trying to solve – in Cleese’s case, he did this by sleeping on it – is the best method for a solution.

Tags: Best Practices, Creative, Strategy

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