Effective Brainstorming: The Science Behind the Ideas

Including brainstorming within the stages of design thinking is an essential practice that generates effective results, since this is the only way to foster different ideas and opportunities, before refining and transforming them into solutions.

In this post, we’ll go deeper into the concept of brainstorming, bringing all its aspects to better understand how it can be useful in the design thinking stages of your business.

What is Brainstorming?

Before inserting brainstorming into your design thinking stages, it is necessary to first understand what this practice is and how it works.

Brainstorming originated in 1939 (although it wasn’t published until 1953) when Alex Faickney Osborn realized that his employees couldn’t create marketing campaigns that would actually bring new customers to the company. In face of this scenario, Alex started to propose group sessions where everyone could give ideas in order to suggest solutions to the problem.

Since its creation, it was established that one of the main pillars of brainstorming would be tolerance, that is, every idea must be accepted. This means that there is no criticism or debate, and all focus is directed at producing new ideas.

As Osborn noted, disagreement can drive away the emergence of good ideas and make it difficult to include people with the introspective profile and that is unfortunately so common in creative circles. The processing of human ideas works like a queue, they must be spoken to keep them flowing, thus making room for better solutions at every opportunity to share because two heads is always better than one.

Where to Use Brainstorming?

Contrary to what many people think, brainstorming does not need to be used only to solve problems. You can enjoy the benefits of this practice in other situations, such as when your company plans to improve the way it relates to its public, or even while structuring the stages of design thinking, as mentioned above.

In short, taking brainstorming into your day-to-day life to solve simple problems will get you used to this tool, further sharpening your ability to design and solve.

In the next topic, we’ll talk about some good habits that need to be followed so that your brainstorming can really bring results.

What to Do to Make Your Brainstorming Effective?

Here we’ll talk in more detail about what needs to be done and what needs to be avoided during the process of brainstorming, and show the types of brainstorming tools you can use.

Preparing for Brainstorming

Whether you employ this technique in the design thinking stages of your company, or for any other purpose, there is a process to be followed that can be separated into three parts: Preparation, Execution, and Evaluation:

  • Preparation: In this stage of the process, it is important that people receive good information and a clear direction on the subject. Knowing in detail what the problem to be solved is and what data the organization has about the issue is a minimum requirement to avoid wasting time and focus when the team meets.
  • Realization: The employee responsible for solving the problem is the one who must conduct the meeting. In this sense, it is essential that he/she has solid knowledge in brainstorming, as well as the personal skills to deal with possible imbalances and conflicts.
  • Evaluation: Finally, once the above steps have been completed, it’s time to put all ideal on the table to evaluate and choose the most appropriate solution for the occasion. Providing feedback explaining why the other ideas were not approved is essential, as it helps to keep the collaborators interested and motivated for the next meetings.

Possible Types of Brainstorming

There are three types of brainstorming: (1) anonymous, (2) individual/group, and (3) structured or unstructured. Let’s see how each one of these types works:

  • Anonymous: In short, the central idea is presented to your collaborators and the possible solutions are done anonymously. This prevents shy people from feeling inhibited from expressing ideas and suggestions.
  • Group/Individual: Brainstorming, as we know it, is usually applied in groups, especially in processes involving the stages of design thinking. However, nothing prevents it from being done individually. As with anonymous, some people may not feel comfortable expressing their opinions in public.
  • Structured/Unstructured: When brainstorming is unstructured, we see people expressing their opinions and ideas in a more relaxed and less organized way. Structured brainstorming, on the other hand, is ordered in rounds and allows a certain amount of time for everyone to express their suggestions.

Tools You Can Use for Brainstorming

If you have any doubts about how to organize a brainstorming round in your company, here are some tools that can certainly help in this regard, all with a very intuitive interface and easy-to-understand functionalities:

What Should You Do?

Make Use of Analogies

“Analogies allow you to step between worlds that seem disconnected and connect them based on some structure, to help you come up with new ideas-even if they’re not radical and then build on them,” the researchers say.

Consider all Ideas

During the session, try not to criticize the ideas proposed by your collaborators, no matter how illogical they may seem. Such behavior limits the creative power of your team, making the brainstorming process unproductive.

What Should You Not Do?

Don’t Block Ideas

Avoid phrases and attitudes that make your employees feel pressured to come up with good ideas. Strict behaviors and phrases such as “Let’s have good ideas” are good examples.

Avoid Incentives

According to experts, encouraging employees to come up with new ideas and then rewarding them for it may not be a good practice. In these situations, the authors have found that people often give many ideas, but they are very similar to each other.

Finally, brainstorming is an extremely powerful technique when used correctly. So use the information provided in this article and bring new solutions to your company whenever necessary.