Wikipedia defines Brainstorming as a group creativity technique designed to generate a large number of ideas for the solution of a problem. Looking at this definition there are four integral elements to any brainstorming activity-
- Brainstorming is essentially a group activity
- It involves creative thinking
- It is a process of multiple idea generation
- It is directed at finding a solution to an impending problem
From this perspective, brainstorming becomes key to any stage in the development process of any idea or product. However the important aspect about brain storming that sets it apart from any kind of ideation is that it involves multiple minds and multiple ways of tackling the same problem. Owing to this fact there are certain ideas or steps that help in making brainstorming an effective process.
- Be an Active Listener
Brainstorming is essentially a group activity and due to its nature, there are a lot of chances that there are multiple ideas coming in from different people. Owing to the differences in the perspectives that different people look at the same issue, there is a need to take in the various view points to ensure a fruitful outcome. This makes it imperative to ‘listen’ to others in the group. Here there is a need to understand that ‘listening’ is different from ‘active listening’ and the need is to be an active listener.
- Look at different ways to the problem itself
Even before an attempt is made to understand the solution there needs to be an attempt made at understanding the problem at hand. Only once the problem is understood can there be a genuine effort at reaching a plausible solution for the problem.
- Be calm, don’t lose hope
The process of brainstorming can sometimes be long and grueling. While trying to come up with brilliant ideas, the initial stages can be fraught with disappointment and annoyance. Hence it is important for the people involved in the activity to keep their calm and not lose hope, ‘coz invariably, a brilliant idea is just around the corner.
- Don’t try too much, too fast
There is a tendency to try and reach all the conclusions and find all the answers in a jiffy. It is important to understand that all problems do not come with straight jacketed solutions, this especially in the media world. There are new problems each day, which require new and innovative ways of handling. This is one of the reasons which make this industry all the more interesting. Hence an attempt needs to be made to understand that taking on too much can be detrimental.
- Take breaks in between, don’t sweat it
Sometimes in a brainstorming session, one might reach a dead end from where there seems like there is no way to go. What needs to be understood at this point is that, there is a way to go but it points to the nearest theatre or multiplex! It’s time to take a break. Often enough we pressurize ourselves so completely in an attempt to find that wonderful solution that we lose track of all logic and refuse to see the signs that tell us that we have.
- Put down everything that comes up
Nothing is inconsequential or silly in a brainstorming session. Though it might seem so in the beginning, there is a good chance that once the idea is developed a little further, it could turn into a master piece. This makes it important to jot down everything that comes in the mind; you never know what might just click.
- Dead end? Restart!
When all our faculties are directed towards finding the answer to the same problem, there is a very good chance of going round and round in circles without any obvious solution. There is a good chance that nothing good can come out of it, more often than not, once this happens the problem is likely to just get worse. Hence there is the need to make a conscious effort to restart when you feel you have reached a dead end. Once that happens, the only logical way out is- to press the restart button!
- Be focused
While it is all good and beneficial to take breaks while brainstorming, it is very important to be focused on the task at hand. Having a clear idea about the problem and understanding its every nuance is imperative to the task of brainstorming and hence comes the need to be and to stay- focused.
- Not one-Many solutions
Once the group is on the right track, brainstorming sessions are invariably successful in producing a varied list of solutions to the problem. In such a situation it is important to not be over confident and jump at the first plausible solution but build back up. It is not necessary that the first solution that comes up is the best one and so if you come up with a bright way out, stick on and come up with something better.
- A diverse group of participants
It is always advisable to have an extremely heterogeneous group while engaging in a brainstorming session. A variety of people will ensure that there are a variety of perspectives that can be looked at and this ensures that once the problem has been dissected threadbare, the solution that comes up is flawless.
- Found the perfect solution-Celebrate
The best part of a brainstorming session is to realize that the previously gigantic problem has been tackled, and tackled well. It is extremely important to reinforce the group and yourself, by celebrating and acknowledging the efforts and brain work put in by every member of the group.
Thus brainstorming is the need of the hour. In a constantly changing world, fraught with differences and problems, there is a need for innovation and unique ways of handling issues. It is owing to this very fact that brainstorming is essentially, the way ahead.