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Successful brainstorming

brainstorming

Brainstorming is a key activity in building any product. It evolves a concept into a series of ideas, and those ideas into the necessary vision to actually get started with the real work. It is a fundamental part of any business. Here are three tips on conducting brainstorming sessions:

1) Keep things visual. You have an idea, and while between two people it may be easy to be on the same page, it doesn’t always happen. So, if at all possible, draw, document, build, to make sure your vision is the same. This is probably the most valuable tip (hence it’s the first). Only if both want the same thing will things move it that direction.

2) Don’t be afraid of ideas. Any idea is a good starting point, and in a good brainstorming session, you want to get those out (again, into paper) as much as possible. You also want to have way too many, so we can weed out the worst ones afterwards. The reason why you don’t do it in the first place is because an evolution of a bad idea can be a tremendous idea. So, no ignoring ideas. No playing “devils advocate” – anything deserves attention.

3) Bring fresh people into the idea. Maybe this doesn’t need to happen on the first meeting, but you can easily “freeze” your creative juices if you don’t keep the drum going. Fresh views into your idea will be extremely valuable. Tell people what you’re thinking about, get them at a table, give everyone pens, and hack away at ideas. Seriously, combining the experience of people with their perception of your idea will generate great output.

4) It’s never early for a prototype. If you have an idea that needs to get out, a prototype may be the best solution. This doesn’t always work out well with web applications because you’re building things presented on flat screens, but why not build a prototyping toolbox with shapes and notes, so you can actually build a physical wireframe of what you’re trying to tell the rest of the brainstorming team?

Do you have tips on how to conduct successful brainstorming sessions? Share them in the comments! Top picture by faroekat, on Flickr.

12 comments
  1. [...] Webreakstuff tipsar om hur man gör lyckad brainstorming. [...]

  2. [...] Webreakstuff » Successful brainstorming: my preferred method of brainstorming is to take a pad of paper, a pen and go somewhere like the beach and just doodle until something happens. The other thing is boredom. I did my best brainstorming during lectures during which I should have otherwise been paying attention. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed. [...]

  3. Diana says: January 31, 20077:36 am

    MnMs never hurt. Or caffeine. I like to throw brainstorming events either mid morning or mid afternoon, when people are both awake and a little silly.

    Helps if you have just the right number of people: 3 at a minimum although up to 7 can work. And someone needs to moderate against naysayers, or anyone who might dominate the conversation and bring it to consensus too quickly.

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  5. Dorai Thodla says: February 1, 20078:19 pm

    Keep an idea log. We lose surprising amount of ideas because we do not note them down. If an idea sounds good after a few days/weeks/months, it is a good one to act on.

    Don’t be afraid to publish them. You may have the bandwidth to implement only a few but these ideas may trigger others. This is especially true if your ideas can improve existing products/services.

    I use the concept of an idea pyramid starting at the bottom:

    1. Lots of crazy ideas (put them all in there)
    2. A few researched ideas
    3. A subset selected and validated
    4. A subset of 3 acted upon

  6. Tony says: February 2, 20074:19 pm

    Great tips. I think a lot of the time we are just afraid an a lot of the time we don’t have time but we still need to overcome both to get the best end result.

  7. james says: February 6, 20072:06 am

    udea log is really important. i second that!

    cheers,
    http://thygoodies.blogspot.com

  8. Kyle Korleski says: February 6, 20074:05 pm

    This reminds me of the movie, “A Beautiful Mind”

  9. disambiguity - » links for 2007-02-06 says: February 6, 20076:17 pm

    [...] Webreakstuff » Successful brainstorming Brainstorming is a key activity in building any product. It evolves a concept into a series of ideas, and those ideas into the necessary vision to actually get started with the real work.Here are some tips on conducting brainstorming sessions: (tags: brainstorming collaboration) [...]

  10. UsableWorld says: March 4, 200711:00 am

    Agreed. Mind maps are the key.

    For a group, get people to take 5 minutes to rapidly put down their own maps, whatever comes into their minds. Associations build up that way and each participant is not hindered by other people’s perspectives, yet.

    Once they’re all done, stick them up on the wall (or projector) and get each particiant to take the group through their thoughts. As others listen they can add to theirs.

    Leave it for an hour or so, so that people can ponder their new ideas.

    When you come back get one person to manage a session to categorise all the various thoughts into an Uber Map.

    Read The Mind Map book by the Buzan brothers http://www.shared-visions.com/explore/literature/mindmap.htm

    and use this software http://www.mindjet.com/us/

  11. Rick Bryant says: September 8, 20073:12 pm

    The other day I stumbled accross a simple and neat brainstorming tool and free of charge I might add. It works supported on the design from permutating different facets from your idea into a list and then the tool combines untested permutation lists based on the list, that in turn generates ideas you would rarely, if ever think of. After locating it, I apply it frequently, because it does work conceptually amazingly asymptomatic. Brainstorming Software

  12. Rick Bryant says: September 8, 20073:12 pm

    The other day I stumbled accross a way cool brainstorming website and free I might add. It works founded on the idea of combining different aspects from your problem into a list and then the utility joins novel permutation lists founded on the list, which in turn surfaces components you would seldom, if ever think of. After finding it, I utilise it much, because it does help conceptually simple and advantageously. Brainstorming Software

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