Brainstorming – A Problem Solving Approach
Brainstorming is a popular idea invention and problem solving technique. Brainstorming is a method that is used by leaders and managers when they need to deal with complex problems. Brainstorming helps when there is need to manifest the next steps in difficult situations.
According you Wiki, Brainstorming is a group or individual creativity technique by which efforts are made to find a conclusion for a specific problem by gathering a list of ideas spontaneously contributed by its member(s).
Brainstorming can be very helpful in the decision making of our daily life. I Brainstorm when need to find a creative idea or solutions for a problem. There are many steps and definitions are available on the internet for Brainstorming. I will lay down how I do it. First, let us see when we can take advantage of brainstorming.
- When you stuck with a problem and you are not able to find any solutions.
- When multiple ways lead to the same destination, Brainstorming help us find the best.
- When priorities are not clear and you do not know which step is to take first.
- When you need to discover the relationship between different activities of a problem.
- When you need to find a creative approach or Idea.
- When you want to manifest the conflicts between the thoughts/activities regarding some problem.
- When you are not able to conclude a final decision.
Steps to Brainstorming:
- Plan Brainstorming Session: Plan the activities you want to cover in the session. You can brainstorm individually or this can take place in-group. It is good to have 4 to 6 people at most. Make a Plan who is going to participate and let them know in advance. It will make sure that everyone has already done some research. Choose a peaceful place. Have a pen, paper and documents/tools having pitch of the problem. Set a fixed timeline such as half or one hour. Stay away from mails and Silent your phone. Make sure no distraction is there during the session.
- Prepare a Graph or Structure: Write down the problem and available options. This is the most important thing. Prepare an Activity chart or Affinity Diagrams. Affinity diagrams are my favourite way to organize information. They help sort out common ideas into one theme. It helps when multiple activities are messing with each other.
- Discuss the problem, but Focus on the solution: Now discuss about the problem and available options. Focus on a single set of theme or ideas that is most important first. Consider everyone’s opinion. Let each of them brainstorms. Make a List of the pros and cons of each choice. It helps appropriate decision-making later.
- Take a break and open up minds: A short break of 5 minutes refreshes mind and helps us to detach from the problem. It helps us to come up with an efficient solution. Cool down and Take a glass of water.
- Focus on Priorities: Draw the relationship between various tasks. Classify the dependent and independent tasks. Keep independent task at different place and draw dependent tasks into an organized chart together as displayed in the Wiki. It assists us assigning priority to task on which other tasks are dependent.
- Finalize the solution: You should be good to take a decision based on the priorities, pros and cons of various options available. I believe you will be able to find some new ideas in the brainstorming session as well. Choose the creative one. As Salvador Dali said, “Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it”. Therefore, finalize the optimal solution.
- Action Steps: Write down the next action steps. Assigning some timeline ensures faster process in execution. If you are not able to conclude a decision, you have a clear and reasonable perspective now. Therefore, do some more research and plan another session to brainstorm. Yeah, it is worth it.
MindTools.com has some nice tools to assist with Brainstorming
“Remember, a real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided.” ~ Anthony Robbins
How Brainstorming increase Productivity:
Whenever a complex problem comes, we think about it a lot. However, just thinking never helps. It is necessary to have some organized thoughts and information.
Writing down and organizing options/alternatives is the key in Brainstorming. Brainstorming helps mind to focus to the solutions rather than the problem. Our mind works fast in that way and this leads to an efficient and creative decision.