Back in 1939, advertising executive Alex Osborn began developing an relatively new method for problem-solving called Brainstorming. He figured that too many advertising ideas were the product of just a few people sharing creative ideas, and in an effort to get everyone involved he created a method of helping get more people to share their ideas.
Introduction to Brainstorming
You and your team have a problem that needs a solution, but you don’t have a proposed solution. Brainstorming lets you collect ideas from the team and discuss the pros and cons of each idea, one idea at a time. This is usually done in rapid succession, with the team either voicing their support or non-support before moving to the next idea. The obvious problem with brainstorming is you risk missing the ideas that come when you think through proposed solutions a few minutes before discarding them as the wrong solution.
The usual setting for brainstorming is in an urgent situation, and the meeting is conducted to quickly propose a solution to a problem when you don’t have a lot of time for thoughtful insight. You do not want brainstorming to become the standard answer to everyday issues. You team should always collaborate, but it shouldn’t look like constant brainstorming.
Benefits of Brainstorming
Brainstorming lets everyone participate – When you get your team together and and ask everyone to contribute, everyone is now a stakeholder in thinking of a solution and either defending or shooting down each idea. You just have to create an environment that makes them feel they can shout out their ideas and they won’t be shouted down or look silly.
Brainstorming doesn’t require special skills – The entire team can contribute with out needing special training. They can share their ideas, and discuss other team member ideas with out knowing much more that how to talk politely.
Brainstorming saves time – The flow of ideas can take a fraction of the time that a normal formal meeting can take, and since everyone can contribute you might get to the best idea faster than through traditional trial and error.
Questions to Ask
Every proposed solution has to start with questions from the rest of the team around who, what, when, where, and how. While not knowing the answer to each question will not automatically exclude the idea, it is a sign it might not be the best solution for your problem.
You should look at brainstorming when things get difficult or you have run out of ideas in an urgent situation.