Brainstorming or “brainstorming” is, in a nutshell, a technique used to find solutions. This article will review the origins of the term, its usefulness, and some tips to apply in your business routine.
What is brainstorming?
If we break down the term, we find two words in English: “brain” (“brain”) and “storming” (which refers to a storm). That is why this technique is usually known as “brainstorming” in America.
The following characteristics usually appear in brainstorming:
- Spontaneity predominates and takes place in a relaxed atmosphere. Of course: there are a series of rules to follow so that everything goes as planned and productively.
- The intention is to find practical solutions to improve aspects of a business, project, or company or to implement new strategies.
- In most cases, it is about teamwork, in which synergy is essential.
- It is desirable to find unexpected concepts which were not seen at first glance.
Who created brainstorming?
This technique’s history goes back to 1939 when the advertising expert Alex Faickney Osborn (1888-1966) proposed to apply the now famous brainstorming in this area.
The New York native is a benchmark in advertising and creativity. He worked in different companies in the field and, in 1919, was part of the foundation of the BDO agency, later renamed BBDO. This firm currently maintains prestige in the area, with over 80 countries.
Osborn is the author of reference books for creatives, such as Wake Your Mind: 101 Ways to Develop Creativity, Applied Imagination: Principles and Procedures of Creative Problem Solving, and How to Think.
His most famous legacy is “brainstorming,” and he proposed that it be carried out in a relaxed atmosphere. In his experience, the expert noted that working groups generate more and better ideas starting from a fundamental rule: do not discuss. The American creative explained that in his book Applied Imagination, published in 195t.
Brainstorming: what is it for?
- It has the potential to fix creative blocks. Advancing without pressure breaks that “blank page” and allows the project to be put into motion.
- It helps collect ideas and, based on them, make decisions.
- It gives voice to the different parts that make up a project. In this sense, it stimulates the participation of all the people in the team.
- It improves communication and generates a relaxed atmosphere in work teams.
- It is an engine for innovation.
In addition to these virtues, brainstorming offers solutions for specific tasks. Look at some examples:
- When applied efficiently, it can bring members of a work team closer, getting different parties to adopt more perspectives. That is, it helps to get more views.
- New ideas can lead to more business opportunities.
- When a problem or obstacle arises, group synergy could collaborate in adopting so-called “lateral thinking,” solutions that are not visible initially.
- It is an excellent way to think about and choose the name or logo of a new company.
5 tips for brainstorming
1. The more ideas, the better: As the term implies, brainstorming does not require overly calculated moves: it is committed to spontaneity, free expression, and openness.
The idea is to create particular chaos to order these proposals and move towards possible solutions or good plans.
In brainstorming, all ideas are acceptable. It is not advisable to criticize them as soon as they are stated but to let them have their necessary maceration.
It is essential that from the beginning, all participants are aware of the problem for which solutions are sought. All the shared ideas will be of no use if you do not know what the goal towards which you are advancing is.
2. Freedom, but with rules: Usually, a brainstorm has four basic rules:
Do not make assessments or critic other participants’ proposals ants when writing down the ideas; that is left for a later stage.
Everyone can participate, even regarding somewhat absurd or complex ideas.
The quantity of ideas in the initial stage is significant. As we pointed out before, the more there are, the better.
Stimulation and teamwork are essential: ideas can be combined, improved, and so on.
3. How to form the teams: the ideal number of groups for brainstorming is between 5 and 15 participants. One of the people must be in charge of coordination, to guide and check that the rules are followed.
How ideas are going to be written down should also be established: some possible formats are notebooks, whiteboards, sticky notes, on technological devices such as computers or tablets, etc.
4. The environment is essential: conveniently, the space is comfortable and calm, and it is recommended that the arrangement of the groups be in a circle.
5. Follow the stages of brainstorming: it is essential to follow the order of the different instances: first, present the problem; then rethink and think about other points of view; then start brainstorming; and, finally, review together the ideas created by the groups.
Can you brainstorm alone?
Throughout this review – and in most of the articles that deal with the ABC of brainstorming – we talk about teamwork.
Now, is it possible to brainstorm alone? Or, instead, is it beneficial to perform this task without company? Is creativity a recipe that is only cooked in a group?
In that sense, why not dare to brainstorm alone? Lastra mentions the cases of famous creatives in history, such as Elon Musk, Thomas Edison, and Albert Einstein. They coincide in their preference for working alone.
Have you ever decided to do your brainstorming? We recommend you have a notepad handy or film yourself as if you were doing life. You will be surprised by all the triggers that can arise to boost your business.
From ideas to writing creative content for your social networks, putting together your product launch, rethinking packaging design, and alliances with other entrepreneurs to boost sales, everything can arise in a space dedicated to organizing brainstorming.
Dare to apply this technique and show the world what you can do!