14 Brainstorming And Idea-Generating Techniques That Work

Source | LinkedIn : By Julie Neidlinger

I will never understand the question “where do you get ideas?”

I have plenty of ideas. Too many ideas. Ideas are everywhere, making my head explode. And rarely do I feel “stuck” in the sense that I don’t think I can go forward. Over the years, though, I’ve found several different ways to help me jumpstart my brain in art, writing, and work when I feel like I’ve hit a wall or am overwhelmed with ideas and need to sort through them.

Too many ideas can stall your project as much as having too few.

3 big ideas before we get started.

There are three things to consider about brainstorming or idea generating before we get to the actual techniques that I use.

1. You can do this on your own.

You don’t need a group. Some of these techniques would require at least one other person, and nearly all of them would work with a large team. But most of them you can do on your own.

Here’s the thing: I’m wary of group brainstorming.

I don’t think it works all that well, but most leaders are convinced that it does because they are enthralled with the process. I’ve written about the dangers of brainstorming before, and here is a summation of it:

  1. Mistake output for results. We see a full whiteboard and mistake it for a successful brainstorming session, when all it might be is a full whiteboard full of bad ideas. We mistake lots of output for the best possible results. Sometimes all of those mediocre ideas make things far worse than having no ideas.
  2. Personality clashes. This one I attest to personally. Personalities in groups don’t always mix, meaning some will dominate while others will become quiet. Louder people don’t necessarily have the best input. It’s just louder. They are usually unfairly represented in the final output because of aggression and volume. Many times I’ve shut down and become a spectator because of aggressive personalities in the group.
  3. Less creativity at work. Creativity is actually reduced in a group setting, despite feeling as if it was the opposite. Groups come up with the lowest common denominator. In a group, we don’t actually push to excel, we push in comparison to the output of others, and match ours too it.
  4. We fixate and plagiarize other’s ideas. We fixate on ideas, unable to get past them, building or revolving our solutions around a bad premise. Again, we might have a lot of output, but all of it is off the mark in the same way.

I’m a loner, and I don’t like working in groups. I prefer to work through things on my own. But I’m not saying all of this negative stuff about group brainstorming just because of personal preference. Brainstorming on your own is a completely different animal devoid of most of these issues, and I wholeheartedly recommend it. Or, have the team do some exercises on their own before coming together as a group.

Regardless, you can brainstorm on your own just fine.

2. Get off the electronic device.

Use paper and pen. There is a kickstarting aspect to writing that gets the brain working. Writing is a key part of these techniques because it’s part of what makes them work.

The physical action of writing does something positive in your brain. It activates it differently than when you are typing at your computer. It slows you down (which is good). It sets off a different set of senses (tactile paper, feel of a pen). Instead of just thinking of the words, you most form the letters as if you were creating art.

Part of the problem you might be having is that you simply need to get off of the computer and onto paper. You might not be that stuck after all, once you make the switch. So writing with a pencil or pen is an inherent part of these brainstorming techniques.

Read On….

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