Effective brainstorming can take place in groups or individually.
Some of the ideas submitted to a brainstorming session may seem off the wall at first sight but after consideration may turn out to be perfectly good business ideas.
To make a brainstorming session work effectively you should:
Be non-judgmental – if everybody has to worry about what others may think of their suggestion before they suggest it then you have immediately stifled the process. You have to let people say exactly what comes into their head as it comes in. In our Ideas Generation workshops we highlight how everybody looks to their friends to see what they think of what they say – don’t do this. Just say the words as they come into your mind and leave them there.
Think as wild as you like – the wilder solution could actually turn out to be the real solution. One of our Ideas Generation Workshops investigated Toilet Paper and came up with a very good business idea for the Joke market!
Grab and go – analyse what is good about what has been suggested and what could be added or taken away to make it workable. Suggest how it can be made viable and what market you think it would fit into.
Have as many ideas as possible so that you can choose from as many options as you like – you may go with one idea and find it unworkable – you may then want to revert to another.
Record everything that is said and review it later with the above points in mind.
The way you actually record the brainstorming session can also be very important.
Put somebody in charge of recording the session – this could be a tape recorder so everybody is free to participate.
To keep a certain level of practicality - put somebody as a wise head – this may be just to ensure that everybody does not talk together and then have all the good ideas lost in the melee.
Keep the session working by not making it too serious. Have fun and everybody will participate more freely.
Set a time for the session – short timed sessions don’t become jaded and uninspiring. People are still coming up with the spontaneous ideas and this is the most effective.
Give everybody a copy of the details to take away and think about. This could be a transcript of the tape which was recorded. You can be sure people are going away with ideas they are working out either consciously or subconsciously.
Analyse the session on another date.
Repeat the process if necessary – it may mean a different central focus for each session which can be very effective. You can be sure that if the same topic comes out of each session there may be merit in investigating why this happens.
Mind mapping is an effective tool to use after the brainstorming session and is based on Tony Buzan's concepts of mind mapping i.e. finding connections from one thing to another in a method that comes up with an effective map solution to a problem.
Remember mind mapping is about making connections to come up with the best solution to a problem...
In the process you make similar solutions apply to various situations and in doing so develop association skills that stand to you for life. You may decide to mind map a particular product which will lead to a better use of the product, a new version of the product or indeed a similar product with better features. Either way you are thinking solutions rather than problems and this is a key feature of the Student Enterprise Awards process.
In everyday life we all come upon problems and we can allow them to define our limits or we can effectively overcome them and provide further opportunities for ourselves and in doing so open up new channels which enable us for the future. Give it a try!