Great ideas are born in everyone’s mind, it takes careful planning and powerful execution to turn them into reality. Here brainstorming enters, it is the process by which you squeeze out all ideas you can think of and from there you piece them together to come up with a plan.
The human mind is so strong that it can conceive even the seemingly impossible. No software has ever come close to the mind’s processing of creative ideas, its complexity, and fluidity. Besides, all of the wonderful structures we see both in the cyber world and the tangible world are a product human imagination and careful execution. Now let us talk about brainstorming in-depth and build things that will wow the audience.
Image by: Eran Becker
Before brainstorming one should know the four basic rules of brainstorming:
1. More is better
The higher the number of ideas generated, the higher the chance of producing quality, and creative, solutions.
2. Absolutely no criticism
Either alone or in a group, criticizing ideas that are formed during brainstorming is a no-no. I was once in a group discussion and our leader said “today we will brainstorm about our next project.” The project was to develop a desktop application. After the leader stated the problem suggestions were fired from every direction, some good, some goofy. What followed next made everybody in the room silent as driftwood except for our leader. He was only writing the suggestions he liked and omitting what he doesn’t. The next 30 minutes ended with only one man speaking, and he was wondering why.
3. Welcome unusual ideas
In accordance to rule 1 and 2, even the most weird ideas should be welcomed. These ideas can spark more creative ideas which can then be polished.
The idea of man flying was unusual before the Wrights. Or Earth revolving the Sun.
4. Integrate ideas
With the Wrights’ plane and Einstein’s equation comes another great invention: bombing cities from a plane. Well, that’s too macabre but a good example.
Now that the rules are laid (once again) it is now time to define the problem.
Defining the Problem
Image by: Adam Ciesielski
The need to come up with a good story with lots of twists and turns, a wonderful design that will put a “wow” in every audience’s face, construct a fascinating structure, solve a hard riddle like Sherlock Holmes, enhance an existing function. This is the start of everything, defining what the problem is that needs action.
Image by: Svilen Milev
Absolutely no criticism is allowed. Leave that for later. Limiting your imagination is like limiting your world to your room. Do not be afraid of contradicting ideas, contradicting ideas breed competitive thoughts. Write everything that comes to mind, no editing!
Almost every novelist wish to have the same break like J.K. Rowling had. Look at how wide the world she’s conceived, how “natural” the laws of her world are that people began to think they are a part of it, all because of great imagination.
Whenever I brainstorm I just write all the things I think of and just sort them out later, don’t mind about grammar or far-flung ideas, they popped into your head because one way or another they have some sort of relationship to the problem you are brainstorming.
From the main topic list related terms/ideas that will make the topic expand. Expanding the topic is important because as it expands, the room for improvement grows bigger and better. I find the above picture very effective to use whenever I brainstorm, a network of bubbles ultimately pointing to the center bubble.
The problem: Plan a Christmas Party. Hmm, there should be candies for the kids..oh! and gifts too. Children singing Christmas carols and a deer flying all over the lawn. Now that’s a perfect party that no one would ever forget!
Alone vs. Group
Image by: arte_ram
There are many pros and cons regarding what makes brainstorming effective, but studies suggest that brainstorming alone can generate more ideas than when with a group. Suppose a group of 5 talk in turns about what they think, you can’t talk about the ideas that come into your mind because that would be plain rude unless the group is fine with interruptions while they are talking.
Although thinking alone will remove fear of criticism from others and can produce more ideas, development is limited to your own view. If you have a few heads to spare, talk to them, let them into your world. Besides, other people can think of things that you probably haven’t yet. Say you are a designer and you have two friends who are too, the three of you exchange ideas which sparks your creativity. With the diverse experience the group has, surely a creative and plausible solution will appear.
There was this poster in the company I worked in where the protocols about cleanliness and orderliness are written. It states there that if there is a piece of furniture or equipment that is no longer needed and is just in the way, “gather the team and discuss” about what to do with it. Then it is followed by “ask someone who is not a part of your team” for a fresh perspective about the matter.
Constructing The Backbone (after brainstorming)
This is the part where ideas are sorted out according to plausibility and what of those can be used. The common pitfall here is people try to give all sound ideas in one shot which makes it out of context. Limiting what is only necessary and some tangent to topics is OK, but not everything should be included. As opposed to what is stated above, here, more is not necessarily better.
You don’t have enough Inspiration Points to start brainstorming? Read Feeling Uninspired? 6 Best Ways To Find Inspiration since you really need a lot of it to get going. Brainstorming can be easy as it can also be difficult. Get inspired first!