7 Ways to Brainstorm Brilliant Ideas

Businesses use varying techniques to guide problem-solving. In the realm of innovation, such problem-solving processes and tools are predominantly employed to generate novel but realistic ideas - brainstorming being one of them. Therefore, the future of effective brainstorming could be creating unusual-even senseless combinations as starting points that will later trigger more creative and valuable solutions.

Brainstorming sessions can be a waste of time when they are not carried out properly. To avoid this and inspire brilliant new ideas, facilitating leaders need to take a more methodical style. Bryan Mattimore, brainstorming expert, outlines seven key ways to come up with big ideas:

1. Question assumptions. Competition gets hard and firms require changing the game. Question everything about it. As starting point:

  • What is your creative challenge?
  • Name 20 to 30 assumptions about that creative challenge.
  • Pick some assumptions and use them as creative triggers to come up with new ideas.

2. Redefine the opportunity. First, come up with an opportunity statement, then pick interesting words, replace them, and generate 8 to 10 creative alternatives.

3. Make a wish and then formulate solutions on what the company needs to do to get there. First, brainstorm 20 to 30 big dreams and select several of the more challenging wishes. Use them as creative stimuli.

4. Employ “Semantic Intuition”. During the session, randomly combine several categories of keywords and join them together- one from each category, to create the name of a new idea.
5. Use visual prompts. The facilitating leader passes out pre-selected visuals and asks the participants for ideas inspired by looking at those visuals.

6. Come up with the worst ideas. Get the company’s team to jointly create a list of terrible ideas. Next, find something of interest or value in them to turn them into decent, good, legal ideas.

7. Trigger brain-walking. Brainstorming sessions can take multiple techniques from this list. The participants are asked to write their ideas down, then move on to another station and build upon that idea.

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  • Alix

    Love it! I’m reminded of my client, Ben Ratje’s ideas here. I love coming up with the worst idea. I’ll have to try that!

  • ed bernacki

    I am a bit of purist when it comes to brain storming. Do any of these align with what Alex Osborn first proposed in Applied Imagination (1953) or How To Think Up! (1942)? He coined the term and went into considerable depth.