The four F's of effective brainstorming.
Have you ever tried to get your team to brainstorm a breakthrough idea for a product or service only to find the process mostly yields extensions of existing ideas?
Research on creative thinking gives us these four simple suggestions that will greatly aid in generating great ideas in a short period of time:Fluency: Whoever said one good idea is better than a thousand mediocre ones probably never invented anything. More is better. One of the inhibitors to creative thinking is your voice of judgment that kicks in when you think too long about the viability of your idea. The key is to generate ideas a faster than you can evaluate them. This will produce some unusual and impractical ideas that will serve as triggers for novel ideas that work.
- Practice: Give your team a quota of at least 100 ideas in 15 minutes for each challenge. Post them on the wall for all to see. Use these raw ideas to trigger new ideas that are both novel and viable.
- Practice: Ask your team to look at the challenge from the point of view of successful companies outside of your domain or setting. How would [Company X] approach this opportunity? How did [Company Y] solve this problem? The farther away from your own industry you get the more novel the ideas will be.
- Practice: Divide and conquer. Break your team down into sub-groups and have them brainstorm in different locations. Staff each sub-group so that no one can dominate or stifle the others. Make sure that everyone writes and every idea is heard. Recombine these sub-groups in a sequence so that truly original ideas have a chance to develop before being evaluated.
- Practice: Ask team members when and where they are most creative. Plan your brainstorming session around these preferences. Give teams sufficient time to get into a flow state but don't expect it to last longer than an hour.