We’ve all been there; staring at a blank page, trying desperately to rack your brains for a creative idea, and frustratingly coming up short. When you’re stuck in a creative rut, brainstorming can be an incredibly effective tool for digging your way out. But where do you start?
Luckily, we’ve got 7 brainstorming techniques to get that creative process ticking along in no time.
1. Mind mapping
This is a tried and true method you may have heard of – and it’s still a perfectly viable (and useful) option. Since it’s a visual tool, it makes it really easy to actually see the problem you’re trying to solve or ideas you’re trying to generate, and (hopefully) spark resolutions.
A mind map begins with the one central idea, problem, etc., that you’re trying to brainstorm from. You then begin to write down related issues, topics or ideas stemming from the original one. More subcategories can, of course, be added from the newly formed ideas, making the mind map as expansive (and thus as helpful) as possible.
2. Figure storming
A little bit out of the box (and definitely out of your own shoes), figure storming involves thinking of a historical (or current) figure that everyone knows, and hypothesising how they might approach the particular idea or problem you’re trying to storm.
It’s a great way to remove yourself (and your own worn-out perspective) from the situation, and get the creative juices flowing. What would Richard Branson do? What would Leslie Knope do? What would Elon Musk do?
3. Reverse brainstorming
You’ve heard of reverse psychology (and maybe even fallen victim to it once or twice), now get ready to meet reverse brainstorming. This technique works best for those trying to think of a solution to a particular issue.
Rather than tackling the problem from the traditional standpoint you have been – i.e. ‘how do we solve this?’ – reverse brainstorming invites you to take the reverse approach. Instead, you may find yourself asking, ‘how can we make this problem happen?’ or ‘how can I stop this goal from being achieved?’
4. Step ladder brainstorming
This brainstorming technique focuses on a group situation. Introduce the idea to the group, and then everyone except two people are asked to leave the room to go and individually brainstorm.
The two remaining people then have a set amount of time to discuss their thoughts or solutions, before one person is invited back. This newly added member contributes their own ideas before learning what the first two have already discussed. This process continues with one person being added back into the mix and sharing their contributions at a time.
It’s a great way of discovering each individual’s ideas without the risk of them being affected by other the ideas of other team members.
5. Word Association
Word association isn’t just a fun game, it’s also a great technique for brainstorming creative ideas and solutions. You’re probably already aware of how this one works, but just in case you’re not, it involves penning your central idea/issue, and then writing as many words as you possibly can that spring to mind.
It’s important to not overthink this process too much. If a word springs to mind that seems a little left of centre, write it down anyway. Worst case it means nothing and you forget it – but best case, you’ve got a fantastic new avenue to explore in your brainstorming process.
6. Rapid ideation
Setting a time limit on something can add a bit of pressure to the situation, which may be exactly what you need to get past a mind block. Because of the urgency of rapid ideation, you or the members of your group are more likely to hurl out ideas without overthinking them, trying to get anything possible to land.
Again, this may mean some ideas don’t quite make the cut, but it’s also likely there’ll be a few extra ones you wouldn’t have thought of without this process.
7. What if
It’s time to channel the mind of a toddler continually asking ‘why’, except with ‘what if’, instead. This is a great way of coming up with a bunch of different (and sometimes out there) scenarios, such as ‘What if customers only knew things about my company that they read on my blog section?’ and ‘What if we found a solution to the problem but it made it 10 times worse?’ The key here is to be as creative, silly, funny, or serious as you like.
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