When it comes to brainstorming, the benefit of being an international student or even a domestic one among a diverse community produces the best outcomes. Exchanging ideas within a group of people who possess different perspectives and viewpoints is brainstorming’s unique selling point. You need to know the most effective brainstorming techniques to work on your group projects and assignments. But before listing these techniques, let’s get familiar with the concept of brainstorming first!
It’s a group activity where you and your classmates discuss a specific issue and come up with various solutions or several approaches to tackle a specific topic or conduct research. This creative process allows you all to spontaneously suggest ideas and vet them later on. Your teamwork and creative thinking skills rally hugely during these brainstorming sessions and remember that one hand cannot clap on its own.
So, when searching for innovative ideas, try employing any of the following brainstorming techniques to let the creative juices flow.
This analytic brainstorming technique acts as a visual map so that the group could look at the whole picture. It is literally connecting and creating relationships between ideas to form a comprehensive framework of the steps and the challenges your project could face.
To mind-map, you need to write down your goals, steps, and challenges and ask each participant to think about related issues. Add layers to your map upon each suggestion and visualize the overall process of your project. You can use keywords to summarize each idea and colour your map sections in different colours. Upon completion, assign coloured sections to different people and move on with your project. Also, you can try mind-mapping software like MindMeister if you prefer going digital.
What’s reverse brainstorming? Ordinary brainstorming focuses on solving problems, but reverse brainstorming focuses on the cause of problems. A reverse brainstorming session is usually full of negative questions being asked so you as a group can see where problems might come from. In other words, you create a problem, and then solve it.
This idea generation technique works better on a smaller scale. If you're working on a marketing project, you can use gap filling to enhance the users’ journey. Identify the starting point and the goal point and start filling the steps in between to find the missing parts. You can fill these gaps with answers or questions that need to be answered. You can also, for example, brainstorm the possible users’ journeys that need to be considered.
While it is not exactly a group brainstorming technique, freewriting works best if you wish to brainstorm an essay. It’s more effective if each member gets assigned a part to read about and then you all get 10 minutes of non-stop writing, each on their part. Don’t stop to edit or fix mistakes, just let the words out. Group your writings together and start editing and summarising.
Yes, play! It’s a game where members start saying random words in turns. These words are not necessarily related to the project. When done, each member tries to relate these words to the project at hand. You’ll be surprised how chocolates could be related to global warming!
In this brainstorming method, each member of the group writes down as many ideas as possible in a set amount of time before any ideas are discussed, critiqued, or fleshed out. Time is essential for this technique; you need to time yourself and others throughout the process.
This brainstorming exercise aims to avoid prejudgement of an idea before it has time to grow and develop. By allowing everyone to capture their ideas before the critique begins, rapid ideation avoids shooting down ideas without explanation or a fighting chance.
This is a non-verbal method that asks everyone to write down a set number of ideas (usually 3) relating to the topic at hand in a set time frame (usually 4 to 6 minutes). Then everyone passes their ideas to the person on their right (or left, whichever you prefer), who will then build off of the ideas, adding bullet points or creative strategies. This can even be done remotely using any communication app available to the group.
In this unique brainstorming technique, the group picks a well-known or famous figure who is not in the room—it could be a boss, a fictional character, or a public figure—and discusses how that person would brainstorm for the topic in question. People often hesitate to share their ideas in a group setting, attaching someone else’s name to it in the name of this exercise usually helps.
This method requires a dedicated location for team members to write down their ideas. This can be a channel on a communication app or even a running Google Document for people to add their ideas in real time whenever they have them. This technique allows for a wider idea bank as well as gives contributors the opportunity to remain anonymous which helps some people be more productive.
In this brainstorming technique, every member of the team is required to participate, contributing one idea to the brainstorming session. There are basically two rules: the first rule is that the group has to make it around the whole room at least a full rotation before anyone can contribute a second idea or criticize any of the already mentioned ideas. The second rule is that no one can say, “My idea was already said.” They can instead take their time to think and you can circle back to that person at the end.
After familiarising yourself with the concept of brainstorming and choosing a technique that fits you and your group and gives you the space to be productive, here are a few things you should look out for!
Do Not: Criticize other people's ideas.
Do: Build on one another's ideas.
Do Not: Go overboard with creativity.
Do: Set goals for the session before starting so you know when to stop.
Do Not: Veer off from your path.
Do: Make sure that all the discussions and ideas approach the same goal. If not, write the extra ideas down for further inspection in another session.
Do Not: Use one approach to lead the session.
Do: Use pen and paper, draw, and go for brainwriting or brain-netting if needed.
This is your guide to group brainstorming in a nutshell! So, what techniques do you think would work best for you and your group?