Brainstorming Beyond the Obvious

September 8th, 2014

Here are some brainstorming methods we use to come up with creative ideas for our projects. Hopefully this will help you generate more original and creative concepts and get beyond the typical and obvious answers.

In addition to some unique brainstorming strategies, we certainly use some traditional methods of brainstorming including writing a list and creating a web of ideas. We also try to brainstorm as group as much as possible to get more people thinking about solutions.


1. Gather as a Group
When we get together as a group, we first present the problem we are trying to solve. We discuss the target market, demographics, the purpose of the project, other comparable industries, and more. We try to think about the problem from the perspective of the client, the designer, the consumer, the user, and the public.

2. Spend 10 Minutes of Individual Time
After we’ve discussed the project and the problem, we break off on our own for 10 min of individual brainstorming and research. After 10 minutes we come back together as a group to discuss ideas and start brainstorming.

3. Spin the Concept
When we exhaust all our ideas through brainstorming we then spin the concept. We want to flip the subject around to see if we can view it from a very different perspective. We start asking random questions that have nothing to do with the project. These questions force us to think of the project in new ways. It’s typically not the answer to the question that is useful, but why we responded with the answer that we did. Some examples of questions we ask are:
• What historical figure would it be?
• What number or mathematical equation would represent the subject?
• What animal would it be?
• What time period would relate?
It’s important to listen to reactions and then ask why. This is not only a fun exercise to do with the team, but also generates very unique ideas.

4. Critique Your Brainstorming
Lastly, we believe that there can be wrong answers when you brainstorm. This goes against what most people have been taught, but constructively critiquing your brainstorming session be a good thing. If there are no wrong answers, the brainstorming gets sloppy and off track. Constructive criticism helps keep the team focused on the goals. It also helps generate better ideas. However constructive criticism only works when you explain why it’s not correct.

I hope this helps in your next brainstorming session. I’d love to hear other brainstorming methods that you use.


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