How Switch Thinking can boost your brainstorming results

Let’s face it.

Brainstorming can be fun, engaging and boost support for a new idea.

But far too often the results of brainstorming sessions are disappointing.

The new, big idea is not discovered, the extroverts can dominate and the initial energy fades away like a hole in a tyre.

And because the outcomes are often less than ideal many people are reluctant to come to the next session.

So what to do?

Let’s assume that brainstorming is a still a good idea.

The core idea underlying brainstorming is to invite a diverse group of people for an hour or so and try and create some new ideas and solutions.

It’s a tried and true group or team activity that has been around for 70 years or so.

But like any tool, process or concept it needs to be reinvented.

Fortunately Switch Thinking can provide a range of easy and practical ways to boost your brainstorming results.

Here are some suggestions based on Switch Thinking principles.

The problem with brainstorming and most ideation techniques is they rely on a single way of perceiving a challenge.

And the belief is that just by thinking about something in the same way, new ideas will emerge.

But this rarely works.

Teams get stuck with a limited array of ideas based on previous thinking patterns.

The goal of Switch Thinking as the name implies is to help people switch the way they see a problem.

For example, you can look at an opportunity from a customer perspective or a competitor or a startup perspective (or in the image from a bird’s eye view).

So this could be a way to stimulate a diverse range of ideas.

For example in your next brainstorming session, have one third of the group look at the challenge from a customer perspective. The other third from a competitor perspective and finally the last third from a startup lens (for 10 minutes or so).

Then have the three groups compare and contrast their ideas.

So here is the first switch – Switching Perspectives.

The other advantage of this approach is that you are working from a smaller group to the bigger group (i.e. another switch).

Now switch the Challenge.

Ask the group to switch the challenge from using rational to emotional language (e.g. love, frustrate, nervous, enjoy).

Select 3 new challenges and ask the smaller groups to play with this new emotional challenge.

Then come back together and discuss the results.

Switch the Questions.

Divide your group into two.

Have each group come up with some new or scary questions about the challenge at hand (5 minutes or so).

Now give say the 3 most original questions to the other group and they will give 3 questions to your group.

Spend 5 to 10 minutes answering these new questions.

Then come back together and discuss your new ideas or solutions.

Switch the Assumptions.

As a final thought – ask each person to list an assumption about the challenge before coming to the brainstorming session.

e.g. I have always assumed that we had to sell the product for under $20.

Now work in pairs.

Swap assumptions with your partner.

Try and overturn this assumption.

e.g. What does a $1000 product or service look like?

Then come back together with the bigger group and share your new insights.

In summary

As you can see Switch Thinking provides a new way to bring life to your brainstorming sessions.

It creates a simple way to help people to see the challenge differently.

The examples here are not exhaustive.

Nor is there a right or wrong way of using Switch Thinking.

The goal is to help you and your team to switch your thinking and by doing so a new world of ideas and opportunities emerge.

Check out the 6 Switches Canvas. It’s simple, practical and free.