Generating innovative and creative ideas is a key component of success in many fields, from business and marketing to science, technology, and the arts. However, the process of coming up with new and unique ideas can be challenging, especially when faced with deadlines, limited resources, or creative blocks. Fortunately, there are several effective brainstorming techniques that can help individuals and teams generate great ideas and overcome obstacles to innovation.
When it comes to generating great ideas, brainstorming is one of the most effective techniques out there. But not all brainstorming sessions are created equal. In order for a brainstorming session to be successful, you need to use the right techniques. In this blog post, we will discuss 6 different types of brainstorming techniques and explain how they can help you come up with great ideas. Each technique offers a unique perspective on problem-solving and idea generation, and can be applied in different contexts and for different purposes.
Whether you’re a business owner looking to come up with a new product idea, a writer struggling with writer’s block, or a student seeking inspiration for a project, these techniques can help you break free from creative constraints and explore new possibilities. So, let’s dive in and discover the power of brainstorming for generating great ideas!
Nominal Group Technique (NGT)
The nominal group technique (NGT) is defined as a brainstorming method where ideas are generated and voted upon in an organized manner. In NGT, individuals or a bunch of individuals (small teams) brainstorm individually to come up with ideas, which are then discussed as a group. Each idea is written down on index cards or sticky notes and collected together for voting. Here is the process flow:
- The first step of the process involves defining the problem or question that needs to be addressed and communicating it clearly to the individuals / teams.
- This is followed by teams generating as many unique ideas as possible without judging them. Teams write their ideas or solutions to the problems on a set of index cards or sticky notes. Each idea should be written on a separate card.
- This is followed by a round of discussion where each member of the brainstorming team gets to talk about their ideas in detail and explain why they think it’s a good idea. Here the goal is to present the ideas without worrying about criticism or discussions.
- The next step is teams reviewing the ideas and clarifying on the ideas presented. In this step, the ideas that are duplicates or unclear get removed.
- The next step involves voting or ranking on the brainstormed ideas, and this can either be done privately (numerical rating) or publicly (show of hands) depending on what you prefer.
- Finally, the highest voted ideas are prioritized and discussed for implementation purposes.
The following diagram represents the NGT for brainstorming.
The NGT technique has several advantages over traditional brainstorming methods, such as:
- It allows all team members to contribute their ideas in a non-threatening and impartial way, avoiding the influence of dominant personalities or groupthink.
- It provides a structured and efficient process for generating and evaluating ideas, reducing the risk of wasted time or irrelevant discussion.
- It encourages active participation and engagement from all team members, fostering a sense of ownership and commitment to the outcome.
Direct brainstorming is defined as a brainstorming method where teams brainstorm ideas together. It’s a simple brainstorming technique that involves throwing out as many unique ideas as possible without judging them and then discussing each idea in detail until you come up with something great. The process starts by defining the problem or brainstorming topic, followed by two rounds of brainstorming: one for generating ideas, and one for refining ideas. In the first round, all team members brainstorm ideas together and write them down on a piece of paper. The second round involves discussing each idea in detail until you come up with something great. Once you’ve refined your list of ideas, it’s time to vote on them and decide which ones to move forward with. The following diagram represents the direct brainstorming technique.
Direct brainstorming has several advantages over more structured techniques, such as:
- It encourages spontaneity and creativity, allowing participants to express their ideas without fear of judgement or rejection.
- It promotes collaboration and communication, as participants can build on each other’s ideas and perspectives.
- It can generate a wide range of ideas and solutions quickly and efficiently, allowing the group to move forward with decision-making or problem-solving.
Guided Brainstorming is based on the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving which is the Russian acronym for TRIZ (pronounced treez – Teoriya Resheniya Izobreatatelskikh Zadatch).
It leverages the experience of group members (aka inventors) as a thought-provoking suggestion captured in the form of Inventive Principles. The goal is to have the ideas capture different aspects of the system elements, actions, and environment. These principles can be used to overcome “functional fixedness,” (or psychological inertia, as it is referred to in the TRIZ community) and stimulate new ways to find and use hidden resources to address the problem. The guided brainstorming technique results in the creation of several ideas, unlike other techniques. The ideas are then evaluated and selected to generate solution concepts. The diagram below depicts the same.
Guided brainstorming is a more structured brainstorming technique that involves splitting the brainstorming process into five steps: define the problem, generate ideas, select the best ideas, develop the selected ideas, and evaluate the results. In step one, you need to define the problem or brainstorm a topic so everyone is on the same page. In step two, team members generate ideas by brainstorming individually and writing them down on a piece of paper. In step three, you select the best ideas from the list and move on to step four. Step four involves developing the selected ideas into something great. And in step five, you evaluate the results of your brainstorming session and decide whether or not you need to repeat the process again.
Mind mapping brainstorming is defined as a brainstorming method where ideas are generated using mind maps. It’s a visual brainstorming technique that involves drawing out your thoughts on paper in order to generate new ones. The concept was developed by Tony Buzan in the 1970s and has since become a popular tool for idea generation, problem-solving, and note-taking.
The basic idea behind mind mapping is to create a visual representation of your thoughts, using a central idea or theme as the starting point. From there, you can branch out into sub-ideas and related concepts, creating a web of interconnected nodes that can be expanded and refined as needed. The resulting mind map can serve as a valuable reference tool, helping you see the big picture of a project or problem, identify gaps and connections, and stimulate further idea generation.
To create a mind map, you can follow these steps:
- Start with a central idea or theme, which can be a word, phrase, or image. Write it in the center of a blank sheet of paper or use a dedicated mind mapping software or app.
- Branch out from the central idea by adding related sub-ideas, keywords, or questions. Use different colors, shapes, and fonts to differentiate between different types of nodes and make the map visually appealing and easy to navigate.
- Keep adding branches and nodes as needed, connecting related ideas and grouping similar concepts. Use arrows or lines to indicate relationships between different nodes.
- Refine and revise the mind map as you go along, adding or removing nodes, reorganizing the layout, and adjusting the level of detail.
Below is a sample mind map diagram representing the brainstorming process:
Mind mapping can be used for a wide range of purposes, including project planning, creative writing, problem-solving, and personal development. Here are some examples of how to use mind mapping in different contexts:
- Business: Use mind mapping to brainstorm ideas for a new product, map out a marketing strategy, or plan a team-building activity.
- Education: Use mind mapping to summarize a lecture or textbook chapter, create a study guide, or brainstorm ideas for a research project.
- Writing: Use mind mapping to organize your thoughts and structure your story or article, brainstorm characters or plot twists, or generate new ideas for a writing prompt.
Group passing is defined as a brainstorming method where ideas are generated and passed around in a group. It’s a simple brainstorming technique that involves throwing out as many unique ideas as possible without judging them and then discussing each idea in detail until you come up with something great. The process starts by defining the problem or brainstorming topic, followed by two rounds of brainstorming: one for generating ideas, and one for refining ideas. In the first round, all team members brainstorm ideas together and write them down on a piece of paper to generate as many unique ones as possible without judging them. The second round involves discussing each idea in detail until you come up with something great.
Question brainstorming is defined as a brainstorming method where ideas are generated by asking questions. It’s a simple brainstorming technique that involves throwing out as many unique questions as possible without judging them and then discussing each question in detail until you come up with something great. The process starts by defining the problem or brainstorming topic, followed by two rounds of brainstorming: one for generating questions, and one for refining questions. In the first round, all team members brainstorm questions together and write them down on a piece of paper to generate as many unique ones as possible without judging them. The second round involves discussing each question in detail until you come up with something great.
You may also want to check out my blog on first principles thinking titled – First principles thinking: Concepts & Analysis.
- Credit Risk Modeling & Machine Learning Use Cases - June 9, 2023
- Underwriting & Machine Learning Models Examples - June 8, 2023
- Matplotlib Bar Chart Python / Pandas Examples - June 7, 2023
[…] down the problem into sub-problems representing different aspects of the problems using brainstorming techniques. Define these sub-problems […]