11 Creative Brainstorming Strategies to Fire Up Your Team

Posted: January 14, 2016

Topics: Strategy

We’ve scoured the internet and complied a list of 11 creative brainstorming strategies that are sure to fire up your team and squeeze every single drop of creativity out of them. Why not stop at ten? Why eleven you ask? Because, at PUSH 22, we believe in going one step further.

First, some ground rules to help set the tone for your brainstorm, particularly if it’s a group effort.

  • State the problem — make the goal of the session clear
  • Enforce a “judgment free zone” — there are bad ideas but a brainstorming session isn’t the place to call them out, plus doing so can set people on edge and deflate the process before it begins
  • Encourage zany ideas — soda for camels, rocket boots with neon laces. Don’t be afraid to get weird with it.
  • Go for quantity — in the ideation process, more equals more
  • Build on the ideas of others — brainstorming is a relay, take other people’s ideas and run with them
  • One at a time — shouting over each other is great for dinner gatherings with friends and family, not when trying to find a solution
  • Seeing is believing — it helps to get your idea across if you can show it to people
  • Keep it high level — be careful not to get bogged down in the minutiae
  1. Word Web/Mind Map

The best way to execute this is with a large, cleaned off whiteboard, chalkboard, piece of paper, or flip-chart. Start with a single word, it can be the name of the product or a certain attribute or some other word related to the problem. Once you have that, draw a line and write down another word related to the first. Then write a word down related to the second word and repeat. Again. And again. And again. And again, until you’ve filled the space completely.

Now take a moment to admire your handy work before going through and looking at all the words you’ve written down. Try and start from the furthest point out (ideally the farther you are from the center the less related to your main subject the words are) and start to make connections.

  1. Think Opposite

Hot/cold, nail/crowbar, Bill O’Reily/John Lennon. The point of this exercise is very simple and works best when you’re trying to come up with ways to showcase how a product solves a problem in a new or unique way. Think about a situation in which your product or service wouldn’t be beneficial or place it in a situation in which it wouldn’t be needed, for instance: the world’s most powerful deodorant…in a world where no one has a sense of smell. Hmmmmm…

  1. Push The Pain Point

What’s the very first thing you should do when treating a bleeding wound? Apply pressure. The same goes for solving problems. Think about what the actual problem is? Is it that baking soda is no longer a viable baking good and needs to be repurposed? Or is the concern that glass bottles for milk is an expensive and inefficient way to store and ship milk to a mass market? Both these problems were solved by studying the core issue and coming up with a solution. Glass milk containers were too expensive and clunky to market on a massive scale, so heavy-duty, coated paper cartons were introduced instead.

  1. Time Travel

Travel to antiquity, imagine you’re in the old west or a hippie in the late 1960s, travel 500 years into the future, how would you solve your problem now? This is a fun one and can be a little goofy at times, but is a great way to get the group relaxed and get those brains humming.

  1. Pass It On

Like the word web, this is a writing exercise. Start by posing the question/problem on multiple sheets of paper and give everyone 30 seconds to write down a solution. Now have everyone pass their paper to the person on their left. Continue this until everyone has their original sheet back. Now compare. This exercise is a great starter, when everyone has their own ideas and takes on the situation at hand. It’s also a great way to get the quiet or shy members involved.

  1. Run The Gamut

Imagine a scenario where you have unlimited funds and access to anything or anyone you could want or need to solve your problem. Celebrities, national icons, majestic locations, a space ship (because not even the sky’s the limit). Now imagine the opposite, you have nothing but your own brain power and the things immediately on hand. How would you solve your problem now?

  1. Pictionary

A twist on a game everyone loves (unless you’re a couple going through some serious relationship issues). This is a good way to explore solutions visually. Have people sketch them on a whiteboard or piece of paper which they can then pin onto a board. If you’re moderating, try to keep it quick. Don’t let anyone spend too much time perfecting their work of “art.” Simple sketches is the goal.

  1. YouTube Roulette

Oh, boy, this is a crowd favorite. Let each person pick a YouTube video (ideally any YouTube video but feel free to set your own limits) and watch it as a group. Then break it down, study it, think about what it is you liked and didn’t like about it. Now think about how it applies to your problem, there is bound to be something that sparks an idea.

  1. Study The Competition

Sun Tzu once wrote, “know thy enemy and know yourself.” When it comes to brainstorming ideas a great reference is the competition. Watch all their ads, read all their print, study the language and pictures and soon ideas of your own will form. This can be done by yourself, or with a group. Just make sure anything you come up with isn’t your competition’s idea with a new paint color.

  1. Combine Concepts

Got a few solid concepts? Good. Now slam them into each other and see what you get. Great ideas are often the result of simply combining two existing ideas in a new way. Just think about peanut butter before it met chocolate.

  1. Go Back To Your Well

Part of the fun of brainstorming requires you to take your own step forward. Find the things that inspire you, that lights that fire in your belly that makes you dream of doing big things. Encourage your team mates to do the same. I call this going back to the well, and every now and then it’s necessary in order to clear your head and refresh your brainstorming efforts.

Well there you have it, 11 ways to jump start the brain and get it working toward creative, and effective, solutions. For this writer’s own part, my favorite of the above strategies is word webbing/mind mapping. I tend to find it the quickest way to connect two, distantly related ideas and that always makes for a great session.

This post was written by C. Magin, Copywriter at PUSH 22.