Effective Brainstorming Techniques for Different Types of Teams

Effective Brainstorming Techniques for Different Types of Teams
Imed Bouchrika by Imed Bouchrika
Chief Data Scientist & Head of Content

Bringing forth ideas is a challenging task and people use a plethora of schemes in this process. One known practice for enhancing creativity during this process is telling people what others think about a topic. This instance results in people gathering to brainstorm (Mackeprang et al., 2020).

Presently, however, brainstorming sometimes works differently. Disagreements among members are inevitable, others do not contribute at all, important notes end up being forgotten in email threads, and so on. These are but some of the reasons why these sessions appear to be a waste of time, energy, and effort.

Brainstorming is the gateway to project completion. Hence, keeping it productive and effective at the same time is the key to having a good session (Hansen, 2018). This article delves into effective brainstorming techniques and the type of team each technique works best.

Techniques for Effective Brainstorming Table of Contents

  1. What is brainstorming?
  2. The Benefits of Brainstorming
  3. Techniques for Effective Brainstorming

What is brainstorming?

To provide a short brainstorming meaning, it specifically refers to an activity where a group of people gathers, exchanges ideas, and looks for positive outcomes. At the end of the session, they must be able to determine new networks and organizations and come up with something original and interesting.

The effectiveness of brainstorming is dependent on how a diverse group of people interacts with each other (Prominski et al., 2020).

value of working together and exchanging ideas

A Novel Approach to Brainstorming Fit for Our Times

Are the result of a team’s analysis of concepts and construction of original insights better than those produced by a lone individual? Yes, but the uncertainty lies in garnering the same outcome from brainstorming, considering that other people prefer to work by themselves in a quiet environment. Can this approach be also explained by science?

Source: Zippia

Prominski and Tan (2020) posit in their article “Quiet Brainstorming: Expecting the Unexpected,” which was published on Science Direct, that “it is possible for an individual to replicate team brainstorming by using three critical ‘‘E’’ processes: (1) extract unexpected, diverse, and reliable information; (2) expose unusual but logically sound connections; and (3) evaluate the new possibilities that evolve from the connections. For (3), the new possibilities can and should involve the latest techniques and scientific advances. They could include a shortcut that connects the terminals of the connections or similar connections but with the altered direction of the logic flow. The most critical portion of generating new ideas—asking an original question—is usually not part of solving the problem. The extract and expose processes could help us reveal these types of questions, whereas the evaluation process helps formulate the initial hypothesis for later experimentation.

The Benefits of Brainstorming

Drexel University Marketing and Digital Strategy Executive Director Joe Master reiterates that brainstorming is more about solving a problem than waiting for new ideas. He asserts that great brainstorming sessions are those that end with a bit of compromise on one’s pride and aim to be right. Your idea may always seem the best for you, but when others’ ideas come pouring in, that is when your idea is repositioned and transformed into more compelling ones. For him, that is the very essence of brainstorming. (Drexel University, 2018).

Meanwhile, Kristen Price’s article “The Importance of Brainstorming” narrows the benefits of brainstorming down to:

  • Promoting critical thinking, because brainstorming aims to solve problems
  • Being open-minded, because brainstorming enables people to listen to and explore ideas from others
  • Creating a strong bond among teams, because brainstorming provides everyone with a collaborative experience

Techniques for Effective Brainstorming

Brainwriting

In brainwriting, the group leader discusses the concern with the team, after which the members write their insights.

This technique helps dissociate idea generation from the discussion. It eradicates the anchoring bias and lets everyone discuss their ideas. It also gives more time to ponder on such ideas. It works for teams who are more likely to favor the first few ideas to emerge.

Brainstorming on one’s own, without distraction and public judgment, fosters fresh ideas that may not be thought of in a bigger environment (Hansen, 2018).

Figuring Storming

Figuring storming allows you to picture how someone may manage a certain situation. If everyone in the team can put themselves in others’ shoes, they could have a new viewpoint on specific matters and think of other possibilities.

This brainstorming project management technique is best for teams who have the same insights for recurring tasks.

Brain-netting

Remote work arrangements have become more common due to the COVID-19 pandemic that struck the world in 2020. This new norm brought about virtual meetings and virtual work activities. In cases when the need to brainstorm arises, making a focal online location where the team can work together is necessary. Suggestions would be hard to keep track of in an email; thus cloud-based file storage, virtual whiteboarding materials, or online collaboration application are the best options when it comes to working remotely.

There are also a wide variety of brainstorming tools available online.

remote brainstorming improves creative performance

Fast Ideation

In this technique, the team leader gives the context, relevant information, and questions ahead of time. A deadline is set for members to put their ideas into writing.

Fast ideation helps members to think of ideas deeply and without time limitations. It can also be personalized to fulfill the needs of the team or task. Pen and paper, whiteboards, and other materials can be used. The deadline can be around 5 to 45 minutes. It is best for teams who normally get behind deadlines or those who are not good with meetings.

Round Robin Brainstorming

To conduct a round robin brainstorming, a team must be in a circle. The team leader goes around and asks each member to give an idea. At the same time, someone should document all the suggestions as they will be discussed afterward.

Round robin brainstorming is best for teams that have some members who stay quiet during meetings.

Starbursting

Starbursting centers on asking questions instead of looking for answers. This technique forces teams to ask as many questions as they can about the subject.

Perform this by starting the session with WH questions as this approach can guarantee that all angles of the task will be tackled. It is best for teams who have a habit of missing out on particular facets of a task and hurrying to finish the job.

Stepladder Technique

The team leader mentions what the topic is or asks a related question. Then, the team leaves, except for two members who will elaborate on the topic and their feedback. Next, one more member will join them to add more ideas before hearing what his or her co-members say. This cycle goes on until the entire group is back in the room.

Introduced in 1992, the stepladder technique persuades members to participate on their own before being persuaded by others. It stops members from influencing or feeling overpowered by others’ ideas. It is best for groups with 5 to 15 members.

Source: Gensler

What Makes Brainstorming Instrumental in Business Processes

Brainstorming provides businesses with opportunities to include everyone in developing and innovating their processes. As a result, others’ interests and expectations are considered, further driving motivation, collaboration, and engagement among the management, employees, and even clients (Kosonen, 2014). And this is what makes brainstorming extremely instrumental: it resolves problems with the help of teamwork, unrestrained and uninhibited information, and a vast range of perspectives.

 

References:

  1. Drexel University. (2018, November 16). Why Brainstorming Is Important & How To Do It. Drexel University.
  2. Hansen, B. (2018, May 16). 7 Techniques for More Effective Brainstorming. Wrike.
  3. Kosonen, M., Gan, C., Vanhala, M., & Blomqvist, K. (2014). User motivation and knowledge sharing in idea crowdsourcing. International Journal of Innovation Management.
  4. Mackeprang, M., Hadler, T., Kern, K., & Muller-Birn, C. (2020, January). Seeker or Avoider? User Modeling for Inspiration Deployment in Larger-Scale Ideation. Arxiv.
  5. Prominski, A., & Tian B. (2020, September 2). Quiet Brainstorming: Expecting the Unexpected. Science Direct.

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