Brainstorming is one of the ways to flesh out different possibilities, ideas or approaches to a certain problem, topic or task. There will not be too much research done at this stage. The ideas would be noted down for further exploration and selection at a later time. What one aims to do is to think about all possibilities from a wide range of different perspectives and note them down on a blank canvas which could be probed further and filtered based on the context.
It’s important for us to put aside biases and preconceived beliefs at this stage so as to create a safe environment where individuals working together feel safe to speak up and contribute. After all, the advantages of brainstorming account for the shared knowledge of the group and the wide range of perspectives each individual holds. It’s also why many organisations, communities and groups value diversity as one of the core values. With diversity, people from different backgrounds work together and they bring about their unique perspectives and experiences.
Most of us brainstorm at some point in our life, whether they consciously are aware of it or not. Think about when was the last time you went travelling. How did you decide the destination that you are going to go? Coming up with different countries which you haven’t been to? Asking for recommendations from friends, colleagues or even online reviews of the countries that would be good for a short getaway? Just based on your gut feel? How about renovation your new house or flat? It’s useful for prototyping, exploring, writing, innovating and more.
However, without a suitable culture or mindset, it’ll be difficult to leverage on the advantages of brainstorming. It might work best when:
- Open culture where everyone feels safe to speak up and contribute
- Avoid discrimination against ideas (unexplored != impossible)
- Acceptance of wide range of perspective
- Respect each other and each other’s ideas
- Note down all ideas that were contributed for further exploration at a later time
- Flat structure is preferred where everyone is given equal chances to speak at the session regardless of status
- Good and fair facilitator for the session
There could be more but the list would seem too ideal to be even feasible in the first place. What do you think?