Do you often find yourself stuck for creative ideas or solutions to problems? Sometimes we’re so focused on one thing that we struggle to think about different avenues or directions we could take.
In these situations, it’s time to take a new approach. One that will get you thinking more openly and creatively.
While there are many different ideation techniques, in this article we’re going to be focusing on brainstorming and how this technique can move your projects and team in the right direction.
What is brainstorming?
Brainstorming is a way of getting ideas out of your head and onto paper. You don’t stop to consider or analyze the ideas, you just record them straight away. Brainstorming is often done as a group activity where everyone in the room calls out their ideas as they have them. It can, however, also be done alone as a way to explore your own ideas or problems, whether personally or professionally.
This can be a really useful technique for project management in a number of situations, most notably when trying to solve a problem. It doesn’t matter if an idea isn’t great – it can just be discarded later and could serve as a springboard for another idea, one that adds real value to the discussion or the project.
Brainstorming vs. mind mapping
Considering this definition of brainstorming, you might think it sounds remarkably similar to mind mapping. The techniques do share similar principles and activities, but mind mapping is essentially one step beyond brainstorming. You might even hold different sessions – one for brainstorming then followed by a mind mapping session.
Both techniques will start with a central theme, often written out at the center of a page, screen, or board. Participants will then think of ideas or concepts related to this theme. Whereas brainstorming simply gets ideas onto paper, mind mapping draws connections between all the different ideas and starts to consider their significance to the topic at hand. It groups ideas into categories to help you understand or organize them better.
By avoiding thinking too deeply about any single idea, brainstorming is supposed to allow an uninterrupted and uninhibited creative thinking process.
Tips for successful brainstorming
If you’re planning on trying a brainstorming session, either by yourself or with your team, then here are a few tips to ensure it goes smoothly.
Clearly define the goal/topic
Make sure everyone understands the purpose of the brainstorming session and what topic, question, or problem is at hand. This way, everyone’s ideas should be along the right lines, even if they occasionally go off on tangents. Making the goal clear before the session can give employees time to prepare for it, too.
Quantity over quality
Brainstorming is about getting as many ideas as possible. It’s all about quantity over quality, so don’t hold back on ideas just because you think they’re not the best.
Create a no-judgment zone
To facilitate this process, it’s important that everyone feels comfortable contributing, even if their ideas are silly or less significant than others. No one’s ideas should be laughed at or criticized – that’s not the purpose of one of these sessions.
Keep it brief
Brainstorming can be great for productivity, but it’s important not to spend too much time on them. Spending hours in a brainstorming session will pull you and your team away from other important tasks, so keep them brief and to the point. Ideas could go on forever, so know when to call it a day.
Review ideas later
You shouldn’t stop and analyze ideas during a brainstorming session, but you also shouldn’t let a long list of ideas go to waste afterward. Make sure you review the contributions and make decisions on what ideas to act upon and how you’re going to do that.
With LogicalPlan version 2 ready to launch soon, we’ll have great tools available to you for brainstorming and mind mapping. Try out LogicalPlan to take your project team’s creative thinking and problem-solving to the next level.