3 Brainstorming Methods That Really Work

What do you envision when you think of brainstorming?  A stream of disconnected thoughts spilling from your mind to a page?  A group of people randomly bouncing ideas off of each other?

That kind of free-thinking is useful in some situations.  Giving voice to the thoughts helps to crystallize them.  And the power of collaboration transforms a crazy idea into a meaningful product.

But sometimes free-form brainstorming yields more questions than answers … creates more confusion than clarity.

Structured brainstorming methods often yield a more realistic view of the situation, and one that lends itself to plans and solutions.

These three brainstorming methods are my favorite because they have boundaries while still leaving room for God to weave His creative influence into the thoughts.  Try one the next time you need to #stormyourbrainsout.

Sticky Note Wall

This is my go-to brainstorming method!  Visual, interactive …. plus … OFFICE SUPPLIES!!  (You have  an office supply addiction, too, don’t you??) Grab some 3 x 3 square sticky notes in different colors, clear out some space on a smooth wall and start writing every idea in your head on a note.  Then arrange them in endless combinations until they make sense.

Tips:

  • Color-code your notes by sub-topic or by person responsible for the action, or when they need to be done
  • Use a large mirror or glass door, draw grids, boxes or circles with a dry erase marker to help organize your notes
  • If you don’t have much space, use an 11 x 17 sheet of paper and small sticky notes.

Especially good for:

  • Creating a timeline or schedule
  • Arranging information in modules or chapters
  • People who are kinesthetic learners (you learn best when you interact with information)

Mind-Mapping

When there are too many ideas floating around in your head, capture them using a mind map. Check out this post for some resources to help.

Tips:

  • Let your thoughts and ideas flow from bubble to bubble without worrying too much about how they connect.  You can organize them later.
  • Keep drilling down until you get to individual action steps

Especially good for:

  • Developing a strategy or action plan
  • Laying out a story or series

Cubing

Like examining a cube from all six sides, look at your topic or issue through these six perspectives:

  1. Describe it.
  2. Compare it.
  3. Associate it.
  4. Analyze it.
  5. Apply it.
  6. Argue for and against it.

Does that give you fresh insight? Do you see helpful patterns emerging? Learn more about cubing in this article from the University of North Carolina Writing Center.

Tips

  • Stretch your perspectives beyond the obvious first thoughts.
  • Don’t edit repeat thoughts that show up in multiple perspectives.  Those will bring the most clarity

Especially good for:

  • Developing a vague idea
  • Making a complex decision

 

STORM YOUR BRAINS OUT

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