Coming up with ideas can be intimidating at times. An oft used technique to structure the task is brainstorming. It's a quick and easy way to generate plenty of ideas. Here are a few unexpected tips that might seem backwards at first, but will actually help you conduct your next brainstorm.

1. Restrict your thinking
A blank canvas can be scary, right? That's why it helps to focus your session by creating parameters. Narrowing the topic, asking a question, or working within another framework helps inspire ideas from a grounded position.

2. An even mix of personalities can be a disaster
You want to hear from everyone, but not everyone is outgoing. Try breaking into smaller groups and putting all the big talkers together. That group will be adequately stimulated and unable to overpower the quieter voices.

3. Break your timeline
We know that the pressure of a short session keeps the energy high and the ideas flowing. But it's hard to stop the gears once they're turning. Someone in your group might wake up in the night with the perfect solution. Find a way to invite ideas after the brainstorm is over. Try a volunteer follow-up session or simply ask the group to email any additional ideas by the end of the week.

Of course, many brainstorming rules still apply—and by rules, we generally mean lack of rules. Let go of judgements of yourself and others, quantity trumps quality, and have fun! Seriously, that last one is really important. Do you have favourite tips to share? Please do!




by margriet aasman

Great unexpected tips. I like the idea of narrowing the parameters. It’s like putting the thinking into a safe box… and then coaxing it back out. Love the video at the end.


by Eleanor

Thanks Marg, that little video really made me laugh too. I found it on this site about innovation:


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