3 tips for brainstorming, Themba Tutors

3 Tips for Brainstorming the Right Way

Are You Brainstorming the Right Way? 3 Tips for Brainstorming

 

When you’re working with a team—whether at school or in the office—there’s a good chance you’ve found yourself in brainstorming sessions, especially when your team is tasked with a new project or solving an issue. But the question is: Are you doing it right?

 

What’s Wrong With How We Brainstorm?

 

While each company or team may have their own way of brainstorming, there are key aspects that remain the same: A group gathers together and come up with as many ideas as possible, regardless if they are too outlandish or unconventional, and other members are encouraged to build on these ideas and avoid shutting them down immediately.

But that’s where the problem lies. According to research by Association for Psychological Science (APS) Fellow Paul B. Paulus of the University of Texas at Arlington, the brainstorming process that most of us are familiar with may not be working as well as we might think. In fact, other studies have suggested it can even lead to productivity loss.

In an article published by APS, Paulus mentions that the sharing process is in itself limiting the group’s capacity to maximize each person’s contribution. In a typical brainstorming session, the exchange of ideas is done one person at a time. And as one person speaks, other members may forget what they wanted to say or get distracted by other ideas. 

Additionally, as soon as team members hear what one person has to say, ideas can involuntarily converge. This is because when people work together, they tend to agree on the same things or think in a similar way, which hinders them from digging deeper and coming up with other solutions. This process also invites uneven participation since conversations tend to be dominated by only a few individuals. 

On the other hand, when people work individually, there tends to be more diversity and divergence since the lack of distractions allows them to focus on the problem using their own unique approach and thinking.

 

3 tips for brainstorming, Themba Tutors

 

How to Improve Your Brainstorming Sessions

 

Brainstorming is a collaborative process that aims to generate new ideas and solutions. It’s meant to encourage members of a team to develop and build on each other’s ideas. Needless to say, it’s an indispensable tool. Here are some tips on how to ensure your team is getting the most out of its brainstorming sessions:

 

1. Start off with brainwriting.

One of the techniques that Paulus and his colleagues are exploring is called “brainwriting,” where group members are asked to write down their ideas instead of sharing them verbally, followed by a group writing exercise. This process allows each person to generate unique ideas without being influenced by what they’ve heard from their teammates.

The 6-3-5 method is an effective use of brainwriting. Six people gather to write down three ideas on slips of paper. These notes are then passed to the person on their write, who builds or expands on them. This process is repeated five times, which is then followed by a group discussion and evaluation of the ideas they came up with.

 

2. Don’t rush.

When working as a group, it’s a given that different individuals will have different approaches to the problem. One team member may be the type who wants to find solutions as quickly as possible and tends to agree with the first feasible idea tossed out. However, brainstorming sessions shouldn’t be rushed. By slowing the process down, the group will have more opportunities to build on and hash out or refine ideas to come up with a more effective solution.

 

3. Use drawings.

Some studies suggest that using a combination of writing and sketching or drawing makes the process of generating ideas and creative solutions more productive. A significant portion of the brain is dedicated to visual processing, so drawings can naturally stimulate those regions to contribute to the process of generating ideas. Likewise, plenty of individuals learn and think in a more visual manner.

 

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3 tips for brainstorming, Themba Tutors

Craig Selinger

Owner at Themba Tutors
Craig Selinger, CEO of Themba Tutors (serving Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Bronx, Westchester, Long Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut), is a NY State licensed speech-language pathologist, executive functioning coach, and learning specialist with over 18 years of experience working professionally with over a thousand families. His expertise includes language-based learning issues, e.g. reading, writing, speaking, and listening, executive functioning, ADHD/ADD, and learning disabilities. Check out his interviews with top-notch professionals in the field on Spotify.
3 tips for brainstorming, Themba Tutors

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