Brainstorming Is Not Just About Finding The Solution
The value of brainstorming goes way past the value of a good idea. Rather, it’s about the shared experience and context that is formed during a group session.
Focus on the process, not the ideas.
Brainstorming and ideation is a pivotal part of the design thinking process, which is often used in UX design. But sometimes people get too caught up in coming up with the perfect idea that the real value of a good brainstorming session gets lost.
This means that when your team brainstorms, you need to focus more on the benefits of the process, not just the ideas.
Let’s dive into those benefits and some tips on how to achieve them!
Benefits of a the brainstorming process:
1. Seeds for solutions
One benefit is the rapid fire idea generation. Not necessarily the right ideas. Not necessarily good ideas. But a lot of ideas. This is one of those few times that is quantity over quality.
You are not looking to find the solution right away, and that is precisely what make this valuable. The “crazy,” “stupid,” “unrealistic,” ideas are exactly where the magic happens.
That is how you come up with the solutions that no one else will. Those initial ideas themselves may not be it, but they will plant the seed and act as inspiration for truly innovative ideas. And everyone else has already discarded them because they are “crazy,” “stupid,” and “unrealistic.”
Joke is on them.
How to do this? Deferring judgement is key! It is important to create an environment that makes everyone feel comfortable contributing ideas and discussing.
“You can’t have a good brainstorm without setting it up right — having everyone feeling safe and heard. A key element is trust, consistent with IDEO’s culture of trust. Bullies and blowhards are not tolerated.” — Peter Macdonald, IDEO
2. Dedication time for ideation
Ideation can be easily overlooked. People don’t tend to spend a lot of time just thinking of all the possible solutions. Most people spend 10 minutes thinking of some basic ideas and then stick to the first few ideas they come up
Particularly in larger companies, it is easy to for workers to get stuck in their lane. Designers are focused on design.
Developers are focused on developing. And so on. This is a great opportunity to make sure everyone in the team has a say in the initial direction of the project. It also means you’re going to get a a ton of ideas from a variety of perspectives.
When you call a meeting to brainstorm, you are forcing everyone sit down, think on the same problem, and really examine the solutions landscape. It acts as one giant sound board and allows the team members to discuss and explore.
If done right, the brainstorming process should really excited your team members about the possibilities of solutions.
How to do this? This is all about finding just finding a time and space where people can gather. Again, be sure to include members from a number of different departments.
3. Builds Teamwork
In addition to just gathering other people together, it also helps to actually build teamwork skills. People learn how to be open to ideas and communicate in an effective way, particularly with people who they might not interact with on a daily basis.
This is a great space to build stronger connections between teammates for easier communication in the future.
How to do this? In some cases, it can be helpful to have someone facilitate a brainstorming session. Particularly someone who might be familiar with different brainstorming techniques and can diffuse tension if need be.
3. Getting clients and stakeholders to buy into your team and your ideas
The design process can be hard to sell. Clients/stakeholders might not be too thrilled to pay good money for a bunch of people spit ballin’ some ideas around.
But it truly is an important step and it can be a simple and fun way to include the client/stakeholder into the process. Not only will it help them see the viability of spending time in the ideation phase, but it can ensure that you are brainstorming solution that tends to their needs as well.
“[Brainstorms are] excellent at helping clients buy into the creative process…they get to join in on the brainstorms, they see lots of ideas, they get to vote for their favorites and a dialogue happens during the voting process that is crucial. Some kind of sorting always follows a brainstorm, and it’s during this process that one can learn from the client. What have they already done or are currently doing? What can’t they do? Won’t they do? And most importantly, what are they excited about?” — Yona Belfort, Vital Innovation