Once the problem is actually defined and constraints have been examined, the next key is to gather your team and generate as many different solutions as possible. The more solutions you can generate, the greater your chance of finding the right one, the one that not only solves the problem, but perhaps even goes beyond it to create new opportunities. Before embarking your team on a no-holds-barred brainstorming session, a few simple rules should be followed to make such meetings of the minds effective.
Brainstorming is done a number of ways. However, too many sessions degenerate into simple discussions or “bull sessions.” Hold the session in an esthetically appealing place to stimulate creativity. Avoid distractions and interruptions.
The keys to brainstorming are:
- To generate lots of ideas. Encourage people to free associate with the goal or problem statement. Encourage them to adapt other people’s ideas, to combine them, or to contradict them.
- All ideas are good ideas. Tell people you have thought of the normal solutions, what you’re looking for is crazy, or outside-the-box ideas. There is NO criticism or discussion of ideas in this process.
- There are no questions—the point is to make suggestions, not educate your group. Write down each suggestion without comment and post it on the wall. (Later you can evaluate and adapt ideas.)
- Keep the ideas focused on solving the problem at hand, not on unrelated issues.
Often in brainstorming, THE super, perfect solution won’t be generated. That’s fine. Usually the process stimulates new possibilities that can be combined with what is already known in later evaluation sessions.
The more solutions you create & explore through brainstorming, the better your chances of finding the perfect solution.