For the last several decades, the business sphere discovered lots of useful tools that help make work more productive and business more competitive. Brainstorming has been recognized as one of the most effective tools for marketing and management. And in this article, we are going to consider this notion. You’ll learn what the term means, how to draw brainstorm and all related information. Our agenda is to understand why it is useful and for what purposes the technique is used as well as find out how to use it in order to get the best from it.
What is brainstorming?
Having been developed in the 1950s by Alex Osborn, the method of creative thinking was used for finding unique and extraordinary solutions for topical questions. Since that time, the brainstorming technique was significantly improved.
The process can be defined as the activity of a group of employees/specialists, which is aimed at generating creative (sometimes even crazy) ideas. Any criticism or analysis at this stage is not allowed. The main objectives of participants are to go beyond the boundaries of rational thinking, get lost on thoughts, and develop creative ideas. In such conditions, humans’ brain is able to generate non-standard and unusual ideas which will be further discussed.
According to the brainstorming definition, there are two types of the method: an individual process and a group one. Each of them has its pros and cons.
An individual type
An individual brainstorming implies that only one person generates ideas. Although it seems that this method is worse than a group one, some research proved that more ideas and thoughts are brainstormed during an individual type of the method. It is explained by the fact that a person does not feel restrained or shy, he/she is not afraid of expressing extraordinary thoughts, i.e. a group can serve as a restraining factor. Sometimes, participants may violate rules and start criticizing or analyzing ideas. As a result, members of a team won’t voice all their thoughts.
The second thing that makes an individual technique more successful is that members may forget some ideas while waiting for their turn. Or other participants’ thoughts may hinder the development of their own ideas. It is also quite often that members draw too much attention to others’ ideas and stop generating their own ones.
When you’re all alone, all the above-mentioned obstacles disappear. You are left alone with your brain and may fully concentrate on a topic under consideration.
Nevertheless, this type of mind mapping (which is brainstorming synonym) lacks different thinking that is inherent to participants. Thus, you may not even discover those ideas that other members of the team would suggest.
This type of technique is perfect for simple tasks; it is used when it is necessary to make a list of ideas or concentrate on broad topics.
A group type
In this case, it is possible to use the whole creating potential of all participants. It is advisable to gather members engaged in different spheres of activity in order to brainstorm more thoughts. In this case, every participant focuses on a particular part of the regarded problem and may voice ideas that other members do not even imagine. During a group brainstorming, topics are considered deeper due to the creativity of each participant.
One more pro is the ability of each member to feel his/her importance for the group. They realize that everyone has unique creative thoughts and contribute to the whole objective. The method unites employees and serves as a useful tool for teambuilding.
A group brainstorming is applied when you deal with complex issues and it is necessary to consider a question from all possible sides.
Where is it used?
Now, we suggest considering what is brainstorming used for. Nowadays, it is a popular technique that is frequently used in a wide range of spheres including business, management, marketing, technologies, etc. It is difficult to count how many companies and world enterprises choose the process for workflow organization. It can be said for sure that every business has used brainstorming at least ones. Numerous business giants prefer using mind mapping for:
- enhancing their competitive advantages;
- developing new market products and improving the existing ones;
- finding solutions to urgent management or marketing problems.
The method is effective at all levels of management and production. Let’s consider its use on the brainstorming example of a world giant Amazon.
Mike George who is appointed as vice president of Amazon Echo, explained during one of the interviews that their team is fond of using a “working backwards” technique. It is the type of mind mapping when ideas are brainstormed focusing on end-consumers’ needs. Thus, for instance, the team considers what their consumers expect to get and start generating thoughts from this point.
How to use the technique?
Although mind mapping is an effective tool, it is important to know how to use it correctly. Because even the best method in the hands of an unskilled person may ruin the whole process. The brainstorming process comprises several stages: preparation, active phase, analysis. Thus, let’s consider how to brainstorm in order to get the best from the technique.
- Find the proper place. It is the first step in planning brainstorming. It is necessary to choose a spacious ventilated room with good lighting. All participants should feel relaxed and comfortable there. Prepare all the necessary equipment; make sure that there are enough writing tools (pens, pencils, notepads, sheets), a flip chart/board. Do not forget about water. Nowadays, it is popular to use brainstorming ppt templates that allow simplifying the process of mind mapping conducting.
- Gather a group. Now, it’s time to think about participants. Their choice is not an easy task. Keep in mind that like-minded people have similar thinking styles. Thus, it is probable that they will brainstorm fewer ideas than the group where all members think differently. That is why if you want to use brainstorming for ideas generating, try to comprise the group where participants are engaged in various spheres of activity and have dissimilar thinking styles.
One more important question is the number of participants. Usually, the team consists of 5-8 members. It is the optimal number of engaged people. In this case, everyone will have an opportunity to speak out.
- Appoint a leader. When the list of participants is made, gather them in the room. Choose one person who will be responsible for writing down all thoughts and ideas. It can be any person from the team. His/her main duty is to write down any ideas produced by team members. For this purpose, it is possible to use any board, a flip chart or even a laptop with a projector if you want to use a brainstorming template. The main thing is to place equipment so that everyone can see it. Here, the preparatory process is over.
Note: if the team hasn’t worked together before, make sure that all participants feel relaxed. If you feel that they behave in a restrained manner, warm them up with some mental exercises.
- Tell the rules. At the beginning of the session, it is necessary to remind of general rules. If there are newcomers, then it is important to describe what does brainstorm mean. Draw particular attention to this point. Speak about the main objectives of the technique. It is important to convey the idea that analysis and any criticism are forbidden. And participants’ task is to brainstorm as many ideas as they can imagine. They do not have to be afraid or shy.
- Introduce the problem. Clearly describe the issue and speak about the necessary criteria that should be met. Now, it is necessary to leave participants in silence and give them time to think over the problem, write down ideas. After some time, ask them to share their thought with others. Here, it is important to know that every member can add something at any time. Full freedom of speech is welcome at the stage.
- Guide the discussion. When all participants start expressing their thoughts and exchanging opinions, the task of the leader is to direct the team and refocus them in case of considering similar ideas for a long time. As a guide, the person should know how to brainstorm ideas and encourage members’ creativity. Do not forget about breaks, if the process turned to be too long.
- Analysis. When the process is over, it’s time to analyze all produced ideas and choose the best ones. It’s not an easy task; it also takes lots of time and effort. Every thought and mental direction should be considered.
What benefits does the technique give?
For employees or involved members, there are the following benefits:
- They have an opportunity to develop creative thinking and improve mental activity;
- They are united and used to work in a team;
- They feel they are worth and this encourages them to actively develop skills.
For a company, there are also a couple of advantages:
- Employees’ performance and effectiveness are increased;
- It gets more ideas that can be further used for the development of new marketing strategies, products, services;
- Decisions are made quicker; however, they are more effective and wiser.
Convenient tools for organization and analysis of brainstorming
Due to such a popularity of the method, a great variety of premade digital tools appear on the Internet. They are designed to help organize the process and find out how to conduct a brainstorming session using ppt software. Here are a few links to the section where you’ll find templates for mind mapping.
This is a free brainstorming chart that can be downloaded by every site visitor. The slide allows pointing key thoughts in digital format and displaying them using a projector. It is a high-quality professional tool designed especially for this method.
This is another free slide for a brainstorming PowerPoint presentation. The template has a schematic structure and reminds of a tree-like chart. It is convenient to write down all ideas on the slide. If you display the tool via a projector, its quality will be perfect and won’t have defects.
Here’s one more example of free templates for your brainstorming presentation. The slide has lovely modern design; a clear structure, and all the necessary built-in tools. It perfectly visualizes different types of information and will look perfect if you are going to display it by means of a projector of other technical devices.
Now, when you know everything about brainstorming, let’s conclude the idea of the article. Brainstorming is a useful tool for every business, company, or enterprise which is in search of brand new ideas, fresh solutions for their products, innovative methods of performing work and dealing with competition, as well as achieving new levels of business. It is also an effective tool for office employees and all related people who are engaged in decision-making processes. Mind mapping is widely used by all world leading enterprises. Such a method will help simplify responsibilities, find the right ways out of difficult situations, as well as enhance the creative thinking of your team. We hope that now, you do not have such questions as what is brainstorming and how to use it. Do not doubt and introduce technology into your management process.