Join Stefan Mumaw for an in-depth discussion in this video Brainstorming techniques, part of Learning Brainstorming.
- Once the brainstorming session starts, there's a level of improvisation that organically develops throughout the time that you're together. You can plan your session to the second and still have no idea what will come from it. That's what makes it so great and so maddening. There are times when the ideas are coming fast and furious, and there are dozens of great ideas hitting the table. Other times, crickets. Why are some sessions great, while others fall flat? Remember, we have three factors at work within any group ideation session. One, brainstorming is a process and, as such, requires time to develop.
Two, the goal of a brainstorming session is to offer possibilities, not solutions, and, three, brainstorming sessions are made up of people with their own perspectives, experiences and opinions, which means the group dynamic of interpersonal relationships plays a huge role in the effectiveness of the session. These factors make every session unique, but also make every session unpredictable, but fear not. There are ways to minimize the causes of these fluctuations by giving your stormers something to react to. If I asked you to draw a monster on a blank piece of paper, you might struggle with the exercise, but if I drew a squiggle on the paper, and then asked you to turn that squiggle into a monster, the exercise just got much easier.
This is a psychology of reaction. Humans simply find it easier to react to something than they do to create something from scratch. So, in your brainstorming session, if you develop mechanisms to give your stormers something with which to react, you'll generate more conversation, which leads to more ideas, which leads to even more to react to. We're going to explore a few basic brainstorming techniques that you can use to put that dot on the blank page of your brainstorming session. While these aren't exhaustive by any means, they'll serve to get you started towards an active ideation session.