What are things like in your head?
Maybe it’s clear-sailing in there. All your ideas make sense. Your problems all have clear solutions. Starts and finishes are connected by straight lines.
No? Me, neither.
Ideas get jumbled together like giant piles of spaghetti noodles. Problems have many possible solutions, but which one is best? And I may know where to start and where I want to end up, but the path to get from one to the other resembles that super-curvy street in San Francisco.
Every day. All day.
When that jumbled mess begins to overwhelm or frustrate me, I’ve found that brainstorming is a powerful tool to clean it up.
Whether done alone, with a group of trusted peers, or with a team, brainstorming is an important skill to learn. It’s not just a random dumping of ideas. The most effective brainstorming is a purposeful balance of free-form thinking and strategic organization.
How could brainstorming be a game-changer for your ministry or business? Here are four ways … two from brainstorming alone and two from brainstorming with a group or team.
Brainstorming gets you out of your head
We humans keep brainstorming options and plans, but God’s purpose prevails. Proverbs 19:21 (MSG)
As leaders, we are prone to turn inward for inspiration, direction and decisions. We chew on ideas and problems until we’ve sucked all the passion out of them and they have turned to mush. Often by getting those options and plans out into the open, God’s purpose becomes plain and the direction becomes clear.
Brainstorming brings structure to your ideas
Structure is H-A-R-D for creative people with big visions. It feels confining … constraining. But if your big vision can stand up to the scrutiny of critical thinking, you’ll know it’s one worth pursuing.
Critical thinking doesn’t mean having it all figured out or moving away from faithful expectation of God showing up and showing off. A structured approach can remove barriers and set us in a position for God to do His greatest work.
Brainstorming brings different viewpoints
Leadership can be a lonely place. A fun brainstorming session is the perfect way to bring in some like-minded peers and let them speak into your dreams and ideas.
Our ideas for approaching a problem are limited by our own knowledge and experiences. By bringing in the views of others, the options become deeper and richer, with more detail and completeness.
Your brainstorming crew doesn’t need to be stacked with experts in the topic at hand. Sometimes the “dumb question” from the novice is just what was needed to break the logjam.
Brainstorming builds teams
The most important ground rule of brainstorming is that there is no rank in the room … everyone’s opinion matters and contributes the end result.
This environment builds trust among team members. Even the most junior members of the team feel seen, heard and valued. And the next time someone has a brilliant idea of their own, the relationships built during a healthy brainstorming session will make them feel safe enough to bring it forward.
So what big idea, complicated problem or fuzzy concept is rattling around in your head? Share in the comments how brainstorming could help sort it out!