Brainstorming: 4 Ways to Spark Unusual Solutions

Innovation isn’t easy. While creative people are prone to producing imaginative and entertaining solutions, finding your way to that solution can be quite the obstacle-ridden adventure.

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Luckily, you don’t have to do it alone. You shouldn’t do it alone. Creativity takes a community and your role in the overall process, and your contribution to the big idea, will vary with each new project. And that’s okay. For being the source of a great idea, isn’t always as important as being the spark of one.

There are a few ways to help your team light this flame:

Bring one “bad” idea to the brainstorm.

Every brainstorm has to start somewhere. Instead of counting floor tiles and avoiding eye contact with your team until someone says something, come prepared with one small thought to share, even if it’s not perfect. Be the kindling to your brainstorm bonfire.

Ask a “non-creative”. 

Take whatever idea you’re working through and tell your mother. Run it past your barber. Or share it with the person next to you at Pilates. While I usually don’t walk away with a creative epiphany from these conversations, I do end up closer to one. A little bit of logical left-brain input can lead you to a better solution. No one will care if your genius idea started as a side comment from your postman. Also, go call your mother.

Embrace (some) silence.

The best brainstorms find a balance between saying too little and too much. After you and your team have a solid understanding of the objective, take a few minutes to reflect on it quietly before jumping into a crescendo of creative conversation. This breath allows for unique starting points from everyone in the room.

Create a word map.

Good ideas aren’t necessarily arrived at in a linear way, as if they’re buried neatly under less successful ones. Rather, good ideas are an evolved variation of where you started. Let your ideas grow by writing down the creative connections you’re already making in your head. Let your team see the process and contribute to the many potential appendages. Whatever amazing idea you’re letting linger in your head isn’t as great as it could be after allowing the tangents and experiences of your coworkers and friends help it evolve. It’s natural selection and the best ideas will survive.