Episode #7: 3 Brainstorming Tips to Get Your Creative Ideas Flowing

explore business ideas Apr 14, 2020

Have you ever been frustrated because you can’t come up with new ideas? Or felt like you weren’t creative enough to solve a problem? If so, you’re not alone!

Back in 1939, an advertising executive named Alex F. Osborne was also frustrated by this. He felt his employees were struggling to generate creative new ideas, so he developed a method to come up with new ideas and began hosting group-thinking sessions to inspire his employees. 

This is the origin of modern brainstorming that we use today: generating tons of ideas, and having other people to bounce ideas off of in order to narrow in on the best ones. 

Today, we’re giving you our own best brainstorming tips! You can use them to come up with new ideas, focus your thoughts on your specific needs, and come up with creative solutions to your problems. 

1. Frame Your Brainstorming Session Beforehand

This is a very important tip, and if we could only recommend one, this would be it. 

We believe that the most common reason people don’t like brainstorming is that they have a limiting belief about themselves.

“I’m not good at coming up with ideas,” people will say. Have you ever said this to yourself?

If you have, it’s most likely because you were too focused on the solution you were trying to achieve. 

“But wait!” you might be thinking. “Isn’t coming up with solutions the whole purpose of a brainstorming session?”

Yes, of course it is! But before you start brainstorming solutions, you need to ask yourself: What is the purpose of these solutions? 

Think through these questions to build a clear picture of the solution you need to come up with: 

  • What problem are you trying to solve?
  • What is the situation that requires a solution?
  • What are the objectives the solution must meet?

Before you start brainstorming, be as clear as possible about the problem you are trying to solve or the need you are trying to meet. 

Another way to think about it is framing your brainstorming session as broadly as possible. Define the problem you are trying to solve, but don’t assume the solution will fall into a particular category!

In this week’s episode, we talk through an example from a Forbes article about brainstorming in which a design firm was trying to come up with a product to help cyclists drink coffee while riding. Narrowing in on a predetermined product proved limiting, but broadening their focus to solving certain problems was much more productive. It’s the difference between brainstorming ideas for a spill-proof coffee cup and brainstorming ways to help cyclists drink coffee without spilling or burning their tongues. 

This difference is subtle, but it makes a huge difference in framing your brainstorming session successfully!

For more details on this example and how framing your brainstorming session like this makes a difference, be sure to listen to the episode!

2. Come Up with LOTS of Ideas!

We can’t emphasize this enough: you need LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of ideas! You need the bad ideas. The crazy ideas. The way-outside-the-box ideas. To come up with just one or two good ideas, you need to come up with 30-50 ideas total!

As you’re listing your ideas, don’t restrict yourself. Write down anything that comes to your mind!

Once you have a full list, find different ways you can group them. What ideas have something in common? Group and regroup to look at them in as many different ways as you can. Sometimes the good ideas are a combination of many ideas!

Often, the right ideas won’t come until you’ve seen some bad ones. How can you know if it’s a good idea or a bad idea until you list it and think through it? Once you decide an idea is bad, create a list of the reasons why it’s bad. Conversely, make a list of the reasons why your good ideas are good! This will help you come up with better and better ideas as you continue brainstorming!

3. Collaborate with Others

Coming up with new ideas is a process. Since your goal for this process is to come up with as many new ideas as possible, it’s crucial to bounce your ideas off someone. This will help you filter out the bad ideas and focus on the good ones! 

There are a few options. We’ve used each of these options in different situations. You can choose the one that feels most comfortable to you or rotate through them to get different perspectives each time! 

  • Option 1: Include another person in your brainstorming session. Ideally, this is someone who thinks differently from you, whether that’s because of their occupation, life experience, or another attribute. A good brainstorming session produces a lot of different ideas, and you’ll definitely get that from a diverse set of people and perspectives. 
  • Option 2: Do the brainstorming alone, and then review the output with someone else. Talking through ideas, whether good or bad, can help refine our thought processes and see things more clearly. 
  • Option 3: Do all of the above! Including more perspectives and letting some time pass to consider your ideas will yield the strongest and best ideas. 

When you are done brainstorming, give yourself some time to noodle on the ideas and let it marinate a little. The mind needs time to rest and re-charge. Think it over in the shower or on a walk for extra insight!

If you use even one of these brainstorming tips, we think you’ll start to see some great ideas come out of your brainstorming sessions. Use all three, and you’ll be amazed at the creative ideas you can come up with!

We hope you’re excited to try out these tips, even if you’ve previously thought you’re not creative enough or you’re bad at coming up with ideas. Use these tips to brainstorm business ideas (like we talked about on last week’s episode!), come up with products or solutions you can offer your customers, or anything else you’re struggling to get creative with for your business!

Remember to: 

  1. Frame your brainstorming sessions ahead of time. 
  2. Think of LOTS of ideas—even the bad ones!
  3. Collaborate with others so you get a variety of ideas. 

Listen to Episode #7 and Start Brainstorming!

Are you ready to learn about the reason behind the original 40 hour work week and why using technology, experts, and the internet to leverage your productivity to work less hours is so important?

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