Brainstorming has many benefits:
– It’s fun, simple and easy to learn and do
– Most people enjoy interacting with others and developing new ideas
– Running a brainstorming session gives people time to be creative and sends a signal that new ideas are important.
But brainstorming as a tool to generate breakthrough ideas has numerous faults.
Some of these include:
– It takes time to organise
– You need a group or team (what if you are by yourself and need a new idea?)
– There can be still a tendency to run into group think
– The extroverts can dominate and the introverts are hence not heard.
– There can be social evaluation of ideas by leaders.
In spite of these problems, brainstorming is still a very popular and widely used technique to generate ideas and solve problems.
The question then becomes how to make brainstorming more effective and energising?
One way is by using Switch Thinking.
Switch Thinking as the name suggests is a tool kit to help leaders, groups and teams switch from a usual to a different thinking pattern.
Here are some practical ways to drive greater creative interactions in any brainstorming session:
– Start with the individual (or a pairing in a bigger group).
– Everyone can use the same switch then discuss your ideas with a partner then with a bigger group.
– You could start by using the same switch but each person could use a different prompt.
– A pairing could use 1 switch for a few minutes then move to another switch.
– Half the group could use one switch then the other half use a different switch (selected at random).
– Then compare and contrast your ideas and then look to connect and generate an even bigger idea.
– Everyone could use a different switch then come together and compare notes.
There is no right or wrong way to use switch thinking in brainstorming.
Switch Thinking is particularly important when the team gets stuck or you need to re-energise the group.
Switch Thinking can be used in brainstorming or any other time a new idea or solution is needed by any individual, group or team.