Business and brainstorming go hand-in-hand. It doesn’t matter if you design greeting cards or work in a science lab, because sooner or later you’ll be tasked with coming up with a fresh, new idea for a product, logo, program, activity, etc.
Here’s how we tackle this in our own business, and we hope you can use these tips in your work too.
Purpose, Baby - Before you do anything else, have a specific and manageable purpose in mind. Are you brainstorming a new name for your product? Thinking of three new marketing campaigns you want to roll out it 2017? The clearer and more concise your purpose, the easier it is to stay on task when the ideas start running amuck.
Diversify the Guest List - As much fun as it is to be in a room full of people who have the same interests and passions as you (80s movies + crafting, anyone?), it’s important to invite team members who will come to the table with a different angle, whether it be age, gender, lifestyle, work experience, etc.
Heads Up, Buttercup - Don’t spring a brainstorm meeting on your team 10 minutes before it’s happening. Give enough time to let the ideas percolate. You never know where they’ll show up - on a walk, at the water cooler, in the shower.
Use A Timer - Your baking skills may be sub-par, but you can still put that egg timer to good use. Set the timer for an hour and let the ideas run wild. A set time frame will create a sense of urgency and will help your team avoid burnout from brainstorming for too long.
Put It On Paper - Hand a team member the Sharpies and have them capture the ideas on paper. Sometimes ideas get lost in the air, and this way you’ll be able to have a visual representation of everything your crew has talked about.
Don’t Kibosh Bad Ideas - We’ve all heard this before, but it bears repeating, don’t slam on the brakes on a bad idea. Why? Three reasons:
Shutting down a bad idea could shut down a team member from participating further in the conversation.
Getting bad ideas out there means they’re not clogging up brain space.
A bad idea might actually hold a few nuggets of awesomeness that could be combined with something else to make a really great idea. See #8.
Let It Flow, Let It Flow - Your creativity that is. Don’t be afraid to let your team doodle, create mood boards or do a little word association to loosen the mind. A picture or a word has the power to take your team in a whole new direction.
Franken-idea - Don’t be afraid to pick out the parts you love from various ideas and mash them into one majestic beast.
The Buck Doesn’t Stop Here - Now that the hard work is done, don’t just let your good ideas languish in the dark. Follow-up here is the key to success. Set some concrete next steps - a meeting to flesh out 2 or 3 of the best ideas, a call to a designer about your new logo concept, an email to a photographer to capture your hilarious Christmas card idea.
Now go ahead and wash, rinse, repeat. Let’s get some amazing things out into the world, people!