A Problem Solving Method: Brainstorming

A Problem Solving Method: Brainstorming

Brainstorming is a problem solving technique where a problem is broken down into smaller, more manageable parts to develop different solutions for it. The problem can be anything from what to have for dinner, where to go on vacation or which person in the office is stealing from the communal coffee pot.

To brainstorm a problem, problem solvers gather a group of knowledgeable people about that particular problem and ask them questions about it. They then take all of these answers and try to find common themes among them – usually by drawing diagrams or writing lists – these themes will lead them towards finding a solution to their problem.  Brainstorming is also used to generate ideas, especially those aimed at creative projects such as problem solving or an interface between two parties.

The problem solvers can be anyone from business consultants to CEOs who problem-solve with their own companies to friends trying to decide where they want to go for dinner. It's also used in marketing problem solving, finding new markets for products/services, marketing strategies, and how target audiences will respond (positively or negatively) to certain types of messaging.

A problem solver will break down the problem into smaller ones that are easier to solve, then define problems until there is one left which they have no idea how the problem might solve. This final problem is used as the basis for an answer. The main steps in brainstorming when problem solving include: 

1. Understanding the problem

2. Gathering information about the problem

3. Generating ideas about the problem

4. Evaluating and selecting ideas 

5. Implementing the best idea 

6. Reviewing the results of the brainstorming session

Brainstorming is used in business, problem-solving, marketing, and interface design contexts. It's a problem solving technique that can be used by anyone with a problem to solve, and it's a great way to get a group of people working together to find a solution. When used correctly, brainstorming will lead you towards finding an answer to your problem.

If you want to learn more problem solving skills , you can join IIENSTITU's problem solving skills course . In addition, you can improve your solving skills with free online courses and certifications . Join us today!

1. What Is The Problem Solving Method Of Brainstorming?

2. What Are The Steps of the Brainstorming Process?

What Is The Problem Solving Method Of Brainstorming?

Brainstorming is a problem solving method that allows you to generate ideas in an uncontrolled environment. Unlike other problem-solving methods, brainstorming does not produce effective results if participants can pass judgment on the ideas presented. This problem-solving method is used for all types of problems, ranging from big decisions like moving cities to smaller ones like what gift to buy your friend for their birthday.

The first step in problem solving with brainstorming is getting participants together and introducing them to the issue at hand through a summary or by showing it directly. Participants should then be told that they will be given time, usually two minutes, before being asked to share any thoughts about potential solutions. After this period of silence, participants are asked to share the ideas they came up with, even if they seem entirely ridiculous. The brainstorming method does not allow for any critique or judgment during the idea-sharing. It is important to accept every idea that participants offer and thank them for their input when people finish speaking.

People may use the problem-solving method in various ways depending on what problem you're trying to solve and who your audience is. For example, if you're planning a surprise birthday party for your husband, brainstorming would help you develop gift ideas that he might like and then schedule a celebration that fits his interests without him knowing about it beforehand. If you need to plan out an entire project at work using this problem solving method, brainstorming will help you develop problem-solving strategies and possible solutions.

The problem-solving method can be used for any problem that needs to be solved, even the ones we don't typically think of as such. For example, problem-solving-oriented brainstorming may help you decide which movie to see this weekend or what ingredients to add to make a fantastic dish. It is also advantageous when planning something like a wedding: problem-solving-oriented brainstorming will help determine how many guests will attend and where the ceremony and reception should occur.

The problem-solving method involves everyone affected by whatever problem is being solved so everyone can hear them and their input considered in the decision-making process. This results in much more creative ideas and a higher chance of finding the best solution. Brainstorming is also a problem solving method that can be used for people who are not used to problem solving. This problem solving method is more relaxed than others and allows for mistakes, which can help people feel more comfortable when brainstorming.

Brainstorming is a problem-solving method used in many different fields and for many other purposes. It is essential to keep an open mind when using this problem solving method and accept all ideas that participants offer, no matter how ridiculous they may seem. With enough time and practice, brainstorming can help you find solutions to any problem.

The problem solving method of brainstorming helps us develop potential solutions by getting input from everyone involved in the issue at hand, without judgment. The problem solving method of brainstorming is used for all sorts of problems, depending on who is using it and what problem they are trying to solve. Still, it only involves problem-solving-oriented brainstorming when there is an objective. It can be applied to any issue that needs to be solved and allows people who may not feel comfortable problem solving with other methods to express themselves freely. This problem solving method requires time and practice before you can use it properly. However, once mastered, it creates a creative environment where everyone's input will be considered equally, leading to better results.

What Are The Steps of the Brainstorming Process?

When it comes to problem solving, brainstorming is one of the most popular methods. But what are the steps involved in this process? Here's a look at what you need to do to get the most out of brainstorming:

1. Define the problem. The first step is to define the problem you're trying to solve clearly. It will help you stay focused and ensure that all ideas generated during the brainstorming session are related to the issue at hand.

2. Encourage creativity. The next step is to encourage creativity among your team members. It means giving them permission to think outside the box and develop unconventional solutions.

3. Generate ideas. Once everyone is feeling creative, you can start generating ideas. Don't be afraid to develop wild concepts, as they might lead to more practical solutions. It's also a good idea to create action items that you feel your team could work on for the problem at hand.

4. Refine ideas and select the best option. Once everyone has shared their ideas, it's time to narrow down your choices to the most viable options available. It will give you a good starting point for problem-solving so you can easily create the next steps for each of these action items.

1. What do you think is the best solution for solving a particular problem?

2. How many ideas do you typically come up with during brainstorming sessions? 

3. When should one use brainstorming sessions versus other types of problem-solving methods?

4. Do you find that productivity decreases after completing a brainstorming session?

Sezin Gök - Blogger

SHe is a graduate of Akdeniz University, Department of Business Administration. She graduated from the university with a faculty degree. It has contributed to its environment with its social responsibility project. She writes articles about business and its fields.

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Brainstorming: Definition, Examples, and Techniques for Great Decision Making


In this article we’ll cover brainstorming in-depth, including its definition, some examples of how it’s done, and techniques on how you can brainstorm like a pro.

Have a difficult decision to make, and not sure what to do? Brainstorming ideas will show you the best path forward.

Brainstorming is a must-have decision making skill that enables you to come up with great solutions for even the hairiest of problems.

Without further ado, let’s get to it!

What is brainstorming?

Brainstorming example: making art less scary.

Brainstorming is great for decision making

Other decision making skills.

what is brainstorming

Brainstorming definition: a creative process for generating ideas that encourages quantity over quality and discourages criticism and evaluation. A key ingredient for success is allowing ideas to build on each other.

Brainstorming is a very important decision making skill, because it’s so effective at generating ideas to solve your problem.

Brainstorming is effective at generating ideas for two reasons:

At the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., a group of museum staff joined together to come up with strategies to create better connections with visitors.

One of the biggest issues was making people feel confident about interacting with the art. Visitors often felt like fishes out of water around the museum and even apologized for not being “art people”.

How to make people feel confident and comfortable? The group decided a brainstorm was in order.

For 8 minutes participants sketched out possible solutions on sheets of paper. Then they each presented their sketches to the group.

After the presentations, another 8 minute round of sketching began. Staffers could further explore the issue now armed with all the ideas shared by the group.

One of the ideas presented after the first sketching session was to require all visitors to attend lectures about the museum and its art before heading to the galleries.

These lectures could provide the needed context to make people feel confident navigating the collection.

The problem was that this idea was too prescriptive. What if a visitor didn’t want to attend the lecture?

It would also be difficult to maintain. A whole new set of staff would be needed around the clock to deliver the lectures.

But from this seed idea came another in the second round of sketching.

The museum could provide short, on-demand videos in the atrium before the galleries. The videos would develop skills and confidence around interacting with art.

Now this was an idea everyone could get behind!

Once installed, art enthusiasts and novices alike loved the new videos. They felt much more at ease in the galleries, able to connect with the art.

Brainstorming techniques

There is a lot of advice out there on different brainstorming techniques, and no two techniques seem to match. That’s ok, because the spirit of how to conduct a brainstorm matters more than the particulars.

The techniques I offer to conduct both individual and group brainstorms follow the spirit of much of the advice out there.

On top of that, I’ve found the following two techniques to be very effective at helping me make decisions. I’ve trained teams to use them with much success, both at large public companies and fast growing tech startups.

Technique #1: brainstorming by yourself (step-by-step guide)

Mind mapping is a powerful brainstorming exercise when you’re by yourself. It’s so simple and easy that anyone can do it with 5-10 minutes of work.

Contrary to popular belief, brainstorming on your own can be an extremely effective path to coming up with great ideas.

I usually recommend that each member of my team does their own mind mapping exercise before entering a group brainstorming session. I find that the group brainstorm is a lot more productive that way.

The Mind Mapping Technique:

Brainstorming exercises: mind mapping

Tips for Mind Mapping Success:

Mind Mapping works best when you let yourself free associate words. Try not to criticize or evaluate your thoughts. Just get them on the page. This strategy will ensure that you get the volume and variety of ideas you need to make the best decision.

Use word association to come up with new ideas. A good brainstorming session allows ideas to build on each other. You may discover that word association unlocks values and constraints for your decision you hadn’t thought of before. Use these insights to develop your list of ideas even further.

Set a five minute time limit and only use words or short phrases. It’s worth emphasizing: this method works best when you bypass your inner critic. Setting a time limit can help create the urgency needed to do that. Keeping the phrases short also helps you get into the flow of generating lots of ideas instead of getting stuck going deep on one.

Technique #2: brainstorming with a group (step-by-step guide)

Want to harness the power of several minds to generate amazing ideas and solutions? If so, a group brainstorming session is in order.

In an individual brainstorming session, you are responsible for organizing the exercise and for coming up with the ideas.

In a group brainstorming session, your role as organizer and facilitator may prevent you from fully participating in idea creation.

If you don’t see yourself as creative, or the “idea” person in the room, then facilitating a group brainstorming session is a wonderful opportunity.

You walk away with tons of actionable ideas, but it’s your friends or colleagues who end up doing the “hard” work of generating potential solutions.

Now let’s go through the step-by-step guide on facilitating a group brainstorming session.

Step #1: Set a time, place, and invite list

brainstorming session to identify problem solving methods and techniques

Whom you invite is very important.

Include a broad spectrum of people, so you have diverse perspectives in the room.

For example, if you want ideas on how to increase learning outcomes at schools, invite teachers and curriculum advisors.

Also, try to make sure everyone is familiar with the decision you’re trying to make, and it affects everyone’s life in some way.

If you do those things, then the attendees will come up with a wide range of creative ideas, and will be invested in doing their best. 

A sweet spot for the number of participants is 6-10.

Any less and you start to have fewer ideas with less variety. Any more and it starts getting out of hand, and difficult to facilitate.

When you set a time, keep in mind how long the session should last. For 6-10 participants, I like to make the brainstorming session a minimum of 30 minutes.

If people are still coming up with great ideas by the end of the 30 minute mark, I do everything I can to keep them going. 

If the group seems stalled before the 30 minute mark, I stand my ground and get the group to continue. Sometimes there are lulls, but usually the group becomes inspired once again.

If there are fewer than 6 participants, or more than 10, feel free to dial up or dial down the length of your brainstorming session accordingly.

Lastly, make sure you give people plenty of notice, because they should have prep work to do.

Step #2: Give participants homework to do before the brainstorming session

Often overlooked, this point is super important. Don’t let participants come to your meeting unprepared.

I think you’ll agree when you compare the quality of ideas you get from people don’t have context about the problem vs. people who do.

Don’t waste time at the beginning of your brainstorming session getting everyone up to speed.

That is precious idea generation time.

Don’t waste those special moments where everyone you need is actually sitting together, ready to help you.

There are two types of homework I like to give.

Sometimes I ask participants to perform a mind mapping exercise on their own.

This gets their mind turning on the problem at hand, and it also seeds the brainstorming session with a bunch of ideas. No more slow awkward beginning to a brainstorm.

Other times I ask participants to read up on the decision we’re trying to make. Usually I will provide qualitative and quantitative data about the problem.

If I’m trying to come up with ideas on how to improve customer satisfaction, I might share the most recent customer reviews with the group. In addition I might send average product ratings by category.

By sharing relevant data, I ensure that the group is grounded in facts pertaining to the issue.

Step #3: Hold the session in a fun, relaxing environment

Brainstorming technique

Boxing people up in an environment they’re used to will not get them thinking out of the box, for a couple of reasons.

First, brainstorming requires people to forget the context they were in, and immerse themselves in a new creative space. Unless the space they enter is different, people will bring their stress, fixations, and worries with them.

Second, brainstorming is best when people are inspired to think differently and boldly. A space they’re used to is much less likely to spark inspiration because it feels ordinary and boring.

Fortunately, you can create a fun and relaxing environment without spending money booking a cool space or wasting time traveling outside the building.

I find that a bit of redecoration goes a long way.

Is your living room the best place to invite your friends to a brainstorming session on your next career move? Consider rearranging the furniture to spice up the space. 

In a work setting, perhaps the best place to hold a brainstorming session is the same conference room you use for every other meeting. Consider bringing a bunch of stuffed animals to the room. 

Not only do they visually add something that creates a new feel for the space, participants may find that interacting with them helps to relax and get those creative juices flowing.

Step #4: Start the session by grounding people in the facts

A brainstorming session is a group conversation, so spending a little time at the beginning getting people on the same page is really helpful.

Why is it helpful? Your participants all left something they were focusing on and are now with you. 

They are likely still thinking about the other thing, instead of your thing. Sharing qualitative and quantitative data at the beginning of the session gets them thinking about your thing.

Sharing data gets them thinking about your thing in the right way. With a grasp on the reality of the situation, they are more likely to come up with ideas that would actually be helpful.

Data-driven brainstorming and decision making is better than only using your intuition. But don’t overthink what it means to be data-driven.

Qualitative data is just as important as quantitative data, and it includes things like conversations, comments, trends, and opinions. 

Data is just another word for information, and information can take many forms. Don’t be afraid to think creatively here.

Step #5: Set the rules for the brainstorming session

Brainstorming definition

Make sure people understand that criticizing is not allowed. Encourage that all voices be heard. 

Outlawing criticism is critical for the success of your brainstorming session. It cannot be overstated: criticizing ideas during the brainstorm will kill the creativity in the room!

If a participant censors someone’s idea, it encourages the part of everyone’s brain that evaluates ideas before they’re spoken. No one wants to be criticized in a group setting.

Usually this part of the brain is awesome. It ensures you don’t put your foot in your mouth.

But during a brainstorming session, it’s lethal.

Remember, with a brainstorm, the goal is volume and variety of ideas. Censorship hurts both volume and variety.

You might argue that criticism encourages quality over quantity.

After all, you don’t just want ideas. You want good ideas that lead to good decision making. 

The problem with that logic has to do with a core part of what makes brainstorming effective. Namely, that brainstorming works because people build ideas on top of each other.

Many times, one person’s bad idea mentioned in haste inspires someone else to come up with an awesome idea.

Remember the staff at the National Gallery of Art in D.C.?

In their brainstorming session, someone offered a not so great idea of making lectures mandatory for visitors. That inspired someone else to offer the idea of optional instructional videos on-demand.

Brainstorming ideas

Save the evaluation for after the brainstorm. You or a group can filter through the ideas and save the promising ones for the next stage of the decision making process.

Encouraging all voices to be heard is also important.

Sometimes the quietest people have the best ideas, because they are really soaking everything in and making those all important connections to churn out something brilliant.

I’ll say more about this in the next section, but when setting the rules, simply encouraging people to give each other the space to talk can go a long way.

Step #6: Facilitate the brainstorming session

Write ideas out on a whiteboard or easel pad as they come. Or, get someone else to do it so you can more easily contribute ideas.

It’s important to write the ideas down so they are visible. The visual aid helps people build ideas on top of each other.

You could write down ideas on your phone instead, but I wouldn’t recommend it. You’ll stifle creativity.

The facilitator will also need to enforce the rules stated above. No criticizing, and all voices should be heard.

Sometimes people who tend to be quiet feel intimidated by brainstorms. I usually ask people just to shout out their ideas, and while this method encourages volume it also rewards the loudest and most extroverted personalities. 

You could instead ask people to raise their hands, and call on them one at a time. It slows down the flow a bit, but it will allow quieter people to jump in more easily.

What I like to do is reserve some time at the end to call out people who have not shared anything yet. This move empowers those who might have been too shy to offer their suggestions.

Naturally, during the course of the brainstorming session, questions or comments will come up that are not necessarily ideas to be written on the board. Do not stifle these, thinking they are distractions.

Rather, these contributions are probably helpful to many of the participants.

They might clarify something that is unclear. They might add a perspective which sets off a chain of thinking that becomes really valuable.

Keep these side conversations bounded, and make sure people come back to the brainstorm after a short time. But don’t feel the need to stop them from happening.

Step #7: After the brainstorming session, the evaluation process can begin

Take a picture of the ideas, then filter and organize them.

Once you’ve taken the picture, rewrite the ideas into a word doc or onto a piece of paper.

Organizing the ideas into categories as you rewrite them can be helpful for a couple of reasons.

First, you start understanding the possible strategies to solve your problem.

Second, you automatically pool similar ideas together. This will help you synthesize these ideas into one, or allow you to easily choose the one that is the best.

Let’s briefly look at the decision making process so we understand how brainstorming helps with great decision making.

The decision making process

Brainstorming is a skill needed for Step #2 of the decision making process.

This article is part of a series on must have decision making skills .

Here are links to the other skills:

Now it’s your turn

I’ve said a bunch, now I’d like to hear from you!

How useful was this article? How could I do better?

What has been your experience with brainstorming?

What do you want help with?

Upskill Nation is a community, so make your voice heard by leaving a comment below.

Tags: brainstorming decision making decision making skills

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Brainstorming techniques

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What are brainstorming techniques? Brainstorming techniques are best practices for getting the highest-quality ideas out of a brainstorming session. You’ve put a brainstorming session on the calendar and you’re ready for the brilliant ideas to start rolling in. 

But here’s the thing: you can’t assume that you’ll simply gather everybody in a room and watch the magic happen. 

An effective brainstorming session needs more than just a bunch of brains — it needs structure. That means you should come prepared with some prompts and exercises to kick off the idea generation process. 

Below are a variety of brainstorming techniques in four different categories, so you can help everybody pull out their best ideas and make the most of your time together.

Visual brainstorming techniques

You don’t need to be an artist to pull this off. Whipping out some markers and doodling away with these visual brainstorming exercises can help you get out of your own head and come up with some creative ideas.

1. Mind mapping

You can do this : Alone or with a team

What you’ll need:

How it works : Mindmapping forces you to explore different facets of a problem and organize your ideas for possible solutions. You’ll need to start with the central question you’re trying to answer or problem you’re trying to solve, which should be put at the center of your paper or whiteboard. 

Make this specific enough to provide direction without boxing people into one way of thinking. For example, ask, “How can we improve our customer response times?” rather than something general like, “How can we provide better customer service?” 

From there, write down different thoughts that are related to that question and jot them in separate bubbles around the core question. Then, use those ideas to spark even more ideas that you can connect using circles, lines, and arrows.

End up with a mess? That’s exactly the point. But now you can comb through all of those ideas and pull out the best ones.

2. Storyboarding

How it works : You’ve probably heard of storyboarding in the context of planning out a movie plot or a script. And that makes sense because this technique is especially helpful for brainstorming and designing a series or a process.

For example, imagine that you and the rest of your team are trying to design a new employee onboarding process. Using this type of brainstorming technique, everybody gets some sticky notes and writes down the different elements they think belong in your onboarding process (i.e., a welcome lunch, an office tour, and a one-on-one meeting with the team manager).

After that, you can collect the sticky notes, remove any duplicates, and place and move the notes around on a blank wall to find the best order for your onboarding process. Once everyone agrees, document that order so everyone has it for reference. 

3. Group sketching

You can do this : With a team

How it works : Science says that doodling can improve our focus, enhance our creativity, and give our problem-solving skills a boost. It’s time to pull out some pencils, channel your inner artist, and do some group sketching.

It’s simple: each team member gets a sheet of paper and sketches something related to the core concept you’re brainstorming, for example, activities for your next team outing.

When those first rounds of sketches are finished, papers get passed to the next person who sketches another related image. Maybe the first drawer sketched a pizza, while the next person sketched a wine bottle. Continue passing those papers. Once they’ve made it all the way through the group, collect and discuss the sketches.

It’s a fun activity that can help your team identify new connections and generate more innovative ideas. 


How it works : On your paper or whiteboard, draw a six-pointed star and write the challenge, problem, or opportunity you’re brainstorming at the center. For example, imagine that your team wants to put together a new webinar but you haven’t ironed out any other details yet.

Within each point of the star, write the following terms: who, what, when, where, why, and how.

Now, jot down questions that start with each of those terms. Maybe it’s, “Who will host our webinar?” or “Who is the intended audience for this webinar?” Think of as many questions – both obvious and non-obvious – for each term as possible.

Starbursting enables you and your team to explore all possibilities and thoroughly think through all elements of an idea or project.

Analytical brainstorming techniques

1. customer journey mapping.

How it works : This technique helps you visualize how customers experience your product or service, as well as how they feel along the way.

What does this have to do with brainstorming? Well, sometimes all you need is to get outside of your own head and explore different perspectives on a problem or question. 

Customer journey mapping puts you in the shoes of your customer so that you can potentially identify solutions or ideas that you wouldn’t have thought of on your own. There’s a detailed breakdown of how to use customer journey mapping in this playbook . 

2. Dependency mapping

You can do this: With a team

What you’ll need :

How it works : Brainstorming doesn’t have to be all about coming up with innovative new ideas. It can be just as helpful for proactively addressing any project problems before they throw you off track.

That’s where dependency mapping comes into play. It helps you spot any potential sticking points and manage them ahead of time. Through dependency mapping, you and your team will identify:

Once that’s done, you and the team should look back at the risks and dependencies you’ve identified, and come up with a plan for managing them all. Make sure to name a stakeholder for each, so you know who should be actively managing each risk throughout the project.

Want to learn more? A full description of how to use dependency mapping can be found in this playbook.

3. Premortem

How it works : A premortem is all about picturing the glass half full – and then the glass half empty. You’ll divide your team into two groups: the failure team and the success team. 

The failure team will brainstorm all of the potential reasons your project could take a major nosedive, while the success team thinks about all of the ways your project could be worthy of your best victory dance. From there, you’ll cross-examine those hypothetical successes and pitfalls and narrow them down to the top three risks and opportunities.

That gives you a chance to see into the future and steer clear of any roadblocks. Learn more about how to conduct a premortem in this playbook.

4. S.W.O.T. Analysis

You can do this: Alone or with a team

How it works : S.W.O.T. stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and those four things are exactly what you’ll be identifying to better plan your project. 

On a piece of paper, label four columns with S, W, O, and T (one for each letter of the acronym) and then begin jotting things down within each column. 

As just one of many brainstorming examples, maybe that new app idea will separate you from your competitors (strength) and could be promoted at your upcoming user conference (opportunity). However, you haven’t seen huge demand for that type of app yet (weakness) and more and more of your competitors are moving toward a similar product (threat). 

S.W.O.T. analysis helps you thoroughly think through that product, anticipate any potential problems, and really get it into tip-top shape before pitching it elsewhere. Here’s more information about how to turn your S.W.O.T. findings into actionable strategies.

Creative and game-like brainstorming techniques

While brainstorming is an organized effort to get your team coloring outside the lines, it should also be a good time. Throw in a couple of creative techniques to gamify the process a little bit. Here are a few ideas.

1. Disruptive brainstorming

How it works : Disruptive brainstorming is a great tool for generating as many ideas as possible and then finding the best ones within a certain set of constraints.

There’s quite a bit to it (and you can get the full rundown in this playbook ), but the gist is that you should have your team break into groups, and have each group brainstorm as many ideas within a theme as possible. For example, how can we increase signups to our newsletter list? Groups will write their ideas on sticky notes and hang them on their whiteboard.

Then, each person walks around the room, going to each group’s board and removing the ideas they don’t support. They’ll throw these ideas to the floor – literally. 

From there, you’ll move into disruptive brainstorm loops that last 10 minutes each. You’ll add new disrupt cards , move team members between different groups, and come up with as many ideas as possible within the constraints dictated by the disrupt card. For instance, if you pull the “limited access” disrupt card (which pushes the idea that people love exclusivity), how can you make your newsletter more selective? Should it be a paid membership? Should it offer discounts or content that nobody else gets? 

After doing that, you weed through all of the ideas again. It’s fun, it’s team-focused, and it gets people moving around, so they aren’t falling asleep at the conference room table.

How it works : One of the characteristics of brainstorming is that it gives you a chance to think beyond limitations and come up with your most dream-worthy solutions to problems – you know, if resources and budget weren’t an issue.

That’s what the wishing technique is all about: reaching for the stars. For example, if you’re planning your annual client lunch, what’s your dream venue? (top of the Empire State Building) Who would you love to have speak? (Michelle Obama) What would you serve as the meal? (Kobe beef steak) Go ahead and dream big. 

When you all have your wishes, share them with the group and talk about how your ideas might not be that far-fetched. How could you actually make them a reality? You might be surprised by what you come up with.

3. Forced connections

How it works : Sometimes you just need to get your team’s neurons firing – even if it has nothing to do with your end goal or project.

Try this: bring a bag of random objects to your next brainstorming session. Pull out two or more items and challenge the team to come up with all the ways those things could be related to each other.

It may not have anything to do with, well, anything. But, figuring out how an umbrella could possibly be related to catnip is bound to awaken your team’s inventive side.

4. Team brainwriting

How it works: You can think of this brainstorming technique sort of like a big game of Telephone. Each team member writes a few ideas on a piece of paper.

Pass those papers around and have each person add their own ideas, using the original idea as their inspiration. Once each slip of paper has gone around once, it’s time to discuss.

Not only is it fun to see what everybody comes up with and how ideas build upon each other, but this type of brainstorming format gives everyone a chance to actively participate – whether they’re introverts or extroverts.

5. Role playing

How it works : It’s human nature to get stuck in our own perspectives, but role playing can help you think about things in new ways by putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.

Bring a hat or bag filled with slips of paper into your next brainstorming session. On each slip, write somebody’s name. It could be the names of customers, board members, celebrities, historical figures, etc.

Have people pull out a slip of paper one at a time and try to come up with ideas as if you’re the person named on the paper. How would Abraham Lincoln increase paid app downloads? What about Oprah? It’s a great way to step away from your own biases and shake things up!

6. “What if” brainstorming

How it works: Sometimes you just need a breather, a moment to think about a situation in an entirely different way. 

That’s when it’s time to ask a lot of hypothetical questions in the form of “what if?” For example, what if the problem were worse? Or, what if it was happening to a different team? Or at a totally different time? What if it wasn’t happening at all?

Having an open conversation about these sorts of questions can encourage some serious out-of-the-box solutions and keep your team from getting too stuck in their own opinions. 

7. Improv games

How it works: Maybe you just need to get your team’s brains warmed up, ready to work, and used to thinking on their feet. Improv games are a lighthearted and often hilarious way to get your team to open up. 

Try these ideas: Tell a story a word at a time by going around in a circle. Or play “family portrait” where groups have 10 seconds to pose for a family portrait based on a prompt, for example, “like a family of gymnasts” or something equally silly. Or assign people characters to act out a scene and then require them to switch characters whenever someone yells, “Switch!” 

Check out more improv games to try out with your team. 

Even something as simple as having team members start your session with an embarrassing story can put your team in the right headspace to start openly sharing some fresh ideas. 

Brainstorming techniques to focus and refine your ideas

Your brainstorming session was a smash hit, and now you have billions of ideas that you want to pursue. That’s awesome! But also too much of a good thing. It might be worth it to pull your team together one more time to refine some of those suggestions and zero in on your best bets. Try these approaches.

Arrow in bullseye

1. Elevator pitch

How it works: You’ve settled on one idea that you love from your brainstorming session. But now you’re facing another hurdle: getting buy-in from other departments or stakeholders.

Don’t go sharing your idea until you and your team have worked through this elevator pitch exercise. Have the team create a bunch of different two- to three-line statements that really sell your idea and then vote on the best one. Find more details about how to run an elevator pitch session in this playbook . 

After you’re done, you should have zoned in on the best aspects and top benefits of your idea.

2. Sparring

How it works: Maybe you’re stuck between several ideas or are unsure about which one you can actually get done. Sparring is a useful way to get peer feedback and land on the winning idea.

Sparring is more about bettering ideas than coming up with them. Share the work or ideas you need feedback on and then invite team members to smash it: mark it up, pose questions, and offer criticisms, etc.

Resist the urge to fix the work or ideas right now. This is simply all about raising questions and collecting valuable feedback. Intrigued? See if sparring can help flush out your ideas in this playbook.

3. S.C.A.M.P.E.R.

How it works : S.C.A.M.P.E.R stands for substitute, combine, adapt, modify, eliminate, and reverse, and you follow each letter of the acronym to really noodle on your ideas. 

For example, what would happen to the project if we substituted this for that? Or, what would happen if we eliminated this whole feature? 

This will help you think through all aspects of your idea and make sure that you truly are on the right path.

How it works: You have an idea or a solution, but you’re feeling stuck about how to move forward. What happens now?

DACI streamlines decision-making, so you always know how much say people have and who has to sign off on the end result. Using this system, you assign the driver, approver, contributors, and informed to make roles and responsibilities clear.

Learn more about the DACI framework in this playbook. 

5. Problem framing

How it works : Unlike the others, this technique is best used ahead of your brainstorming session so that you can set your team up for success.

Problem-framing challenges you to pinpoint the core problem that you’re solving for (for example, improving collaboration between your marketing and sales teams) and then draft a problem statement. That way, you can come prepared with brainstorming questions that make your goal clear – without boxing people in.

Check out this playbook see how you can use problem framing to your advantage.

Here come the lightbulb moments…

There are tons of advantages of brainstorming – as long as you do it right. Remember that a meeting of the minds won’t do you much good if you aren’t prepared to lead the discussion with some thoughtful exercises, tools, and prompts.

So, the next time you’re feeling stumped about how to brainstorm effectively, return to this guide to pull out some activities that will help your team come up with their best ideas and have a great time doing it.

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brainstorming session to identify problem solving methods and techniques

brainstorming session to identify problem solving methods and techniques

brainstorming session to identify problem solving methods and techniques

brainstorming session to identify problem solving methods and techniques

10 effective brainstorming techniques for teams

Group brainstorming, if done properly, can promote creative thinking, bring a team together, and help you land on the perfect idea.

brainstorming session to identify problem solving methods and techniques

Productive group brainstorming can really feel like a win: The team leaves feeling energized, accomplished, and excited for the next steps. Effective brainstorming techniques can help achieve this. On the other hand, when a brainstorm session misses—whether it feels unproductive, repetitive, or negative—the team may collectively feel uninspired. 

There are a lot of factors that can derail a brainstorm, but here are some of the common reasons a brainstorming session goes wrong:  

Implementing the following group brainstorming techniques can help you avoid these common woes and instead bring your team together to yield the perfect idea .

10 effective team brainstorming techniques 

Brainstorms typically have three steps: idea capture, discussion and critique, and selection. The following strategies will help you and your team, whether you’re in person or remote , through all three stages. 

1. Brainwriting 

In this nonverbal brainstorming method, everyone writes down three ideas that relate to the topic of the brainstorm. Allow about four to six minutes for this process. Then everyone passes their ideas to the person on their right (or left, whichever you prefer), who will then build off of the ideas, adding bullet points or creative strategies . If your team is remote, they can use a communications platform like Slack to share ideas. After another few minutes, everyone will pass the piece of paper again until it makes it all the way around the table. Once the ideas have made it around the circle, the group discusses them and decides which ideas are best to pursue. 

This technique can alleviate two of the biggest brainstorm pitfalls—unbalanced conversation and the anchoring effect—by ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to contribute and eliminating the bias toward the first idea. 

2. Rapid ideation 

In rapid ideation, everyone writes down as many ideas as possible in a set amount of time before any ideas are discussed, critiqued, or fleshed out. For this brainstorming technique, you will need to set (and stick to) a time constraint, otherwise you’ll risk losing the sense of urgency. 

This brainstorming exercise can be helpful to avoid the all-too-common scenario when an idea is shot down before it has time to grow, transform, and develop. By allowing everyone to capture their ideas before the critique begins, rapid ideation avoids the inevitable, premature shooting down of ideas. The time constraint can also prevent people from talking themselves out of an idea before they share it with a group—a common brainstorming mishap.

3. Figure storming

In figure storming, the group picks a well-known figure who is not in the room—it could be a boss, a fictional character, or a well-known public figure—and discusses how that person would approach the problem or think about this idea . For example, you might ask: How would Oprah Winfrey approach this problem? It seems like a silly question, but putting yourself in someone else’s shoes can help you and your team approach the problem a different way. 

Teammates can sometimes be hesitant to put forth their creative ideas, but if someone else’s name is attached to the ideas—Oprah’s, for example—they are more likely to share it. Also, this brainstorming method removes some barriers that usually restrict creative thinking, like budget and time. 

4. Eidetic image method

This visualization-based method recommended by author and psychologist Jacqueline Sussman employs vivid images stored in our minds from all of our life experiences. Begin with intention-setting: Have the group close their eyes and clearly set an intention for what they will create—for example, an innovative smartphone. Each person in the group sets the intention in their mind that they will come up with a new phone design unlike previous ones.

After these intentions are set, you will have everyone close their eyes again and pull forth the first eidetic image: the company’s current phone design. Once everyone in the group has that image in their mind, you can all begin building upon that design. Ask the group to picture the current design in their favorite color or in their ideal size. Ask them to add features they wish the current design had originally included. Maybe they’ll add a better camera or a larger screen. After everyone has arrived at an image of their ideal phone design in their mind, you will randomly ask a team member to share exactly what their enhanced version looks like. Once they’ve shared, record that idea. Now have everyone picture that new version of the phone and you can begin layering ideas on top of it. In the end, you can end up with hundreds of new concrete ideas—ranging from the color to the features to the size.

This method works best when the goal isn’t to reinvent the wheel but rather to enhance it. While the group should not focus on costs, their ideas should remain in the realm of possibility.

5. Online brainstorming, aka brain netting 

For this group brainstorming technique, all you need is a central location for team members to write down their ideas. If all of your employees are in the same time zone, you can host real-time brainstorms over Slack to develop ideas together. If your team is distributed , you can put together a running Google doc that allows team members to write down their ideas whenever inspiration hits, allowing for busy schedules and time differences. For teams in the same city, one option is to use WeWork On Demand or WeWork All Access to book a conference room or common space for in-person brainstorming together.

After everyone writes down their ideas, it’s important to follow up to decide which ideas to pursue, so this technique is best used for idea capture, with separate meetings for critique, planning, and execution. 

This technique encourages remote employees to participate and puts everyone on the same playing field. You can also keep everyone’s identity anonymous if that helps the team contribute more freely. 

6. Round-robin brainstorming 

In a round-robin brainstorm, every member of the meeting participates, contributing one idea to the brainstorm . The first rule is that the group has to make it around the whole room at least once before anyone can contribute a second idea or criticize, elaborate on, or discuss any of the ideas. The second rule is that no one can say, “My idea was already said.” You can come back to that person at the end when they’ve had more time to think. It’s also a good idea to give the team some time to prepare ideas before the brainstorm meeting. 

Like rapid ideation, this technique encourages (read: requires) everyone to participate and allows the team members to get all of their ideas out before moving on to the critique phase of the brainstorm. 

7. Step-ladder technique

The step-ladder technique, while a bit complex, is a great way to make sure the group isn’t heavily influenced by the first few ideas or by the loudest people in the room. 

To use the step-ladder technique, a facilitator first introduces the brainstorming topic and then everyone leaves the room except for two people. If you’re working with remote team members, you can use breakout rooms in a videoconferencing app to facilitate this. Those two brainstorm together for a few minutes before a third person comes back into the room. The third person shares some of their ideas, before discussing the ideas that the first two discussed. Individuals return to the room one by one, sharing their ideas before learning about the other ideas that have been discussed. Outside the room, the other teammates can either continue to brainstorm and write down ideas or go back to individual work, but they should not discuss their ideas with anyone until they are inside the room. 

If your group is too big, you’re better off going with a simpler technique, as the step-ladder technique takes some time. 

8. Mind mapping

Sometimes, the first idea shared with the group isn’t the right idea, but it sparks three better ideas—that’s where mind mapping comes in. In this technique, the group starts with one idea and then draws lines connecting sub-ideas to the first one. Mind mapping is a visual way to approach brainstorms and can be helpful for those who think visually . 

9. Starbursting 

Starbursting is a later-stage brainstorming technique that can be implemented when a group has already selected an idea to elaborate upon and potentially execute. 

In a starburst brainstorming session, your team will start with an idea or challenge at the center and then create a six-point star around it. Each point represents a question: who, what, when, where, why, and how. For example, who is this product targeting? When would be a good time to launch it? What is our motivation for creating this product? 

Because it focuses on questions rather than answers, starbursting encourages the group to examine an idea from every angle. Presenting an idea in this way frees the person who generated the idea from having to defend it or figure out how to execute it on their own. Instead, the team works on solutions together .

10. Change of scenery

If your team is all in the same space, moving your brainstorm outside to a casual lunch place or even a different floor in your building can help get new ideas flowing. Physical space plays a big part in how employees work, think, and feel. When a team is constantly brainstorming together in the same room, with the same group of people, the brainstorms may feel repetitive and uninspiring. The change of scenery provided by a brand-new space, even for a short period of time, can help people think differently and devise new ideas. 

Five tips for running effective team brainstorming sessions 

No matter which technique you use, these tips can help you get the most out of your brainstorming sessions : 

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Benefits of team brainstorming 

Traditionally, brainstorming activities are used to produce and concept new ideas, but, if done properly, the benefits of a brainstorm can extend beyond ideation. 

Brainstorming as a group boosts group morale because the team is working toward a common goal in a creative and supportive setting. Brainstorms allow teammates to get face-to-face time together, which is important for team bonding. Withholding criticisms during the idea-capture phase of the brainstorm is essential for achieving this benefit. 

Oftentimes, people buzz through their day from task to task without a moment to breathe, even in creative fields. Setting aside time specifically to let ideas flow freely without distraction is important and keeps those creative muscles in shape . Also, rallying people behind a shared topic or idea can help employees feel less isolated and actually make employees more productive. 

When people walk into a traditional meeting, they’re expected to be prepared and have the answers to questions. Brainstorms take that pressure off and allow people to contribute half-baked ideas, even if those ideas aren’t fully thought through or the perfect solution. Those ideas can help trigger new ideas from other people in the room, and the ideas build off of one another (see: mind mapping).  

The whole is better than the sum of its parts: Brainstorming in a group setting can yield better results than brainstorming on your own because everyone comes with their own strengths and perspective . 

The sheer number of ideas produced in a group brainstorm makes a strong case for its effectiveness. Every idea won’t be a winner, but among the ideas that the team comes up with, a handful will be worth pursuing. That is why it’s important to follow up each brainstorm with a planning session to push those ideas into reality. 

These group brainstorming techniques will help structure your brainstorming session for maximum efficiency, and if you need an extra boost of creative energy, check out these creativity quotes to invigorate you and your team. 

This article was originally published on October 16, 2019, and has been updated throughout by the editors.

Jenna Wilson was a senior associate on the social media team at WeWork and a writer for Ideas by WeWork . She wrote about impact, sustainability, and WeWork’s employees around the world.

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29 brainstorming techniques: effective ways to spark creativity

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Bright ideas don’t come as easily as flicking on a light. 

When it’s up to one individual to dream up a solution, it can be time-consuming and cause a lot of pressure. And when it comes to a group of people tasked with solving a problem, ideas might clash. Not to mention, everyone has a preferred method for their creative madness, making it difficult to get every team members’ wheels turning in the same direction.

That’s where brainstorming techniques come in. These techniques provide structure for brainstorming sessions, ignite creativity across all brainstormers, and ensure your ideas come to fruition. And luckily, there are lots of effective brainstorming techniques to choose from. 

What is brainstorming?

Here’s a general brainstorming definition: it’s an approach taken by an individual or team to solve a problem or generate new ideas for the improvement of a product, organization, or strategy. 

No matter your preferred method, most brainstorming techniques involve three steps:

Capture ideas

Discuss and critique the ideas

Choose which ideas to execute

Every brainstorming technique also involves the same ingredients. All you need is an individual or group of people, a problem to solve or an opportunity to address, and time. 

Brainstorming challenges

The golden rule of all brainstorming sessions is quantity over quality. The more ideas you have, the better your chances are that one will be worthy of execution. For these reasons, especially in group brainstorming sessions, be sure all team members check their criticisms at the door and let it be known that the only bad ideas are no ideas. 

Of course, not every brainstorming session will go off without a hitch. Some common brainstorming challenges include:

Unbalanced conversations, sometimes due to extroverts dominating discussions

The anchoring effect, meaning brainstormers cling to the first few ideas shared and don’t move on to others

Awkward silences, which often occur when participants are not prepared 

Perhaps you’ve experienced some of these uncomfortable brainstorming sessions yourself. Thankfully, there are plenty of tried-and-true, and also some unorthodox, brainstorming techniques and tools that tackle just these issues.

Analytic brainstorming techniques

Analytic brainstorming techniques

When you need to look at an idea from all angles or vet a problem thoroughly, analytic brainstorming techniques might be worth implementing. Consider the following brainstorming methods and tools to generate and qualify ideas.

1. Starbursting  

A visual brainstorming technique, starbursting should be used once you or your team of brainstormers has homed in on a single idea. To begin starbursting, put an idea on the middle of a whiteboard and draw a six-point star around it. Each point will represent a question:

Consider every question and how it might pertain to your idea, such as, “Who will want to buy this product?” or, “When will we need to launch this program?” This will help you explore scenarios or roadblocks you hadn’t considered before.

Best for: large group brainstorms, vetting ideas thoroughly

2. The five whys, a.k.a. why analysis

Similar to starbursting, the five whys brainstorming technique helps you evaluate the strength of an idea. Challenge yourself to ask “why” questions about a topic or idea at least five times and consider what new problems you surface—and, importantly, note how you can address them. To help organize your thoughts, consider using a flowchart or fishbone diagram in hand with this brainstorming technique.

Best for: individual and group brainstorms, vetting ideas thoroughly

3. SWOT analysis

You might be familiar with SWOT analysis as it relates to strategic planning , and you might also be surprised to know that this concept can also be applied as a brainstorming exercise to help qualify an idea. The notion? Discuss the following aspects of your topic to determine whether it’s worth executing: 

Strengths : how does the idea dominate or stand out from competitors?

Weakness : are there any flaws in the idea that could jeopardize its execution?

Opportunities : what else can you capitalize on based on this idea?

Threats : what are potential downfalls that could arise if the idea is launched?

4. How Now Wow  

The How Now Wow brainstorming technique is all about categorizing ideas based on how unique they are and how easy they are to implement. Once you’ve collected several ideas, either individually or from team members, talk through where they fall in the How Now Wow spectrum:

How ideas are ideas that are original but not executable. 

Now ideas are unoriginal ideas that are easily executable.

Wow ideas are never-been-pitched before ideas that are also easy to implement.

Obviously, you want as many “Wow” ideas as possible since these are executable but also because they might set you apart from competitors or dispel monotony in a company. To help organize your ideas, consider using a matrix of four squares with difficulty weighted on the Y-axis and innovation on the X-axis. 

Best for: individual and group brainstorms, homing in on an executable solution

5. Drivers analysis

Just as the name implies, driver analysis is a brainstorming technique that analyzes the drivers or “causes” of a problem. To use this brainstorming technique, simply keep asking yourself or your team of brainstormers: “What’s driving [insert problem]?” and then, “What’s driving [insert answer to the previous question]?” Similar to why analysis, the deeper you dig into a problem, the more well-vetted it will be and the more confident you will be in executing solutions for those problems. 

6. Mind mapping

Another visual brainstorming technique, mind mapping addresses the anchoring effect—a common brainstorming challenge where brainstormers fixate on the first ideas instead of coming up with new ones. Mind mapping does this by using the first idea to inspire other ideas. 

You’ll need a large piece of paper or whiteboard to do this. Begin by writing down a topic and then drawing lines connecting tangential ideas to it. This essentially helps you paint a picture of your topic at hand and what might impact its execution or even expedite it.

Best for: individual and group brainstorms, visual thinkers

7. Gap filling, a.k.a. gap analysis

When you’re struggling with how to execute an idea, that’s where gap filling comes in—to address the obstacles standing in your way. Begin by starting with a statement of where you are and then a statement of where you want to be. For example, “Our company creates smart watches; we want to expand our portfolio to also include fitness trackers.”

It’s worth writing these out on a large piece of paper or a whiteboard for all of your brainstormers to see, perhaps using a flowchart or mind map to do so. Then, list obstacles that are preventing you from getting where you want to be and work through solutions for each of them. By the end of your brainstorming session, you should have a clearer plan of how to get where you want to be. 

Best for: individual and group brainstorms, visual thinkers, honing in on an executable solution

Quiet async brainstorming techniques

Quiet brainstorming techniques

Best for businesses that are crunched for time or teams with more introverted individuals, these quiet brainstorming techniques allow brainstormers to contribute ideas on their own time and often anonymously. Look to the following methods to get your creative juices flowing, especially for remote teams with frequent virtual meetings .   

8. Brainwriting, a.k.a. slip writing

A nonverbal and in-person brainstorming technique, brainwriting addresses the brainstorming challenge of unbalanced conversations head-on. That’s because it requires participation and teamwork from every brainstormer, beginning with each person writing down three ideas relating to a topic on three separate slips of paper. Then everyone passes their ideas to the right or left and their neighbor builds on those ideas, adding bullet points and considerations. 

The slips of paper continue to be passed around the table until they’ve made it all the way around. Then, the brainstorm facilitator can digest all of the ideas themselves, or the brainstormers can discuss each idea out loud and determine what’s worth pursuing. Pro tip: limit this brainstorming technique to no more than 10 people to not be overwhelmed with ideas or time constraints.

Best for: group brainstorms and introverted team members

9. Collaborative brainwriting

You can think of collaborative brainwriting like a herd of cows grazing in a field, except it’s brainstormers grazing on ideas throughout a week, anonymously jotting down thoughts or ideas. Oftentimes a brainstorming facilitator will kick off this technique by posting a large piece of paper, sticky notes, or sharing a cloud-based document to jot down a few brainstorming ideas.

From there, team members can build off of those ideas on their own time and anonymously provide feedback. Be sure to set a clear deadline of when the brainstorming session closes to ensure all brainstormers have an opportunity to chime in.

Best for: individual brainstorming 

10. Brain-netting, a.k.a. online brainstorming

Great for remote teams, brain-netting is essentially a place for a team to brain dump their own ideas, whether that’s a Slack channel, Google Doc, or your project management tool . 

The notion is that brainstormers can add ideas whenever inspiration strikes and that the list will be ever-evolving. Of course, the team leader might want to inform their team of brainstormers of any important dates or deadlines when they need solutions to a problem. They may also want to hold a meeting to discuss the ideas. All brainstormers’ identities can be left anonymous even in the meeting. 

Best for: group brainstorms, introverted team members, remote teams


The SCAMPER brainstorming technique encourages brainstormers to look at an idea from different angles and it uses its acronym to inspire each lens: 

Substitute : consider what would happen if you swapped one facet of a solution for another.

Combine : consider what would happen if you combined one facet of a solution with another.

Adapt : consider how you could adapt an idea or solution in a new context.

Modify : consider how you can modify an idea to make it higher impact.

Put to another use : consider how else you could leverage your idea.

Eliminate : consider what you could remove from the idea or solution so that it’s simplified.

Reverse effective : finally, consider how you could reorganize an idea to make it most effective . 

When used in a group brainstorming session, you might want to use templates to track responses or pair the SCAMPER method with a brainwriting session to encourage all brainstormers to evaluate ideas from every angle. 

12. Lightning Decision Jam

Known as LDJ for short, the Lightning Decision Jam brainstorming technique requires 40 minutes to one hour to complete. What will you have by the end? Tangible results and buy-in from an entire team of brainstormers. 

This brainstorming technique is great for remote team alignment . It all begins with writing down positives about a topic or what’s working regarding the topic, then writing down negatives and identifying what needs to be addressed most urgently. This is followed by a few minutes of reframing problems as questions, then brainstorming solutions for those problems. 

Finally, your team uses a matrix to determine how high impact and how high effort your solutions are to decide which ideas are worth pursuing. For a more robust explanation of LDJ, watch this video by design agency AJ&Smart, which created the brainstorming technique. 

Best for: group brainstorms, remote workforces, tight deadlines, honing in on an executable solution

13. The idea napkin

Similar to LDJ, the idea napkin is essentially a brainstorming template that distills a broad topic into tangible solutions. How it works: Every brainstormer has an “idea napkin” that they commit one idea to, beginning by writing down their idea, as well as an elevator pitch for it. 

The idea napkin also includes a column for who the idea is targeting—meaning who you’re solving a problem for (customers, teammates, etc.)—and a column noting what problems your idea addresses. Brainstormers can fill out their napkins ahead of or during a brainstorming session, each is expected to present or share them. The final ideas will be placed on an impact and effort matrix to determine which are worth pursuing. 

Best for: group brainstorms, honing in on an executable solution

Roleplaying brainstorm techniques

Roleplay brainstorming techniques

Drama lovers rejoice! These roleplay brainstorming techniques encourage brainstormers to figuratively walk in someone else’s shoes or put on their hat—or six hats, in one instance—to address a problem or dream up ideas from a new perspective. An added benefit of this? When brainstormers take on a personality that’s not their own, it lowers inhibitions since it’s technically not their point of view being brought to the table.

14. Six thinking hats

This brainstorming technique requires a minimum of six brainstormers to wear imaginary hats—hence the name— that require them to look solely at an idea from one specific angle. For instance, one brainstormer might be wearing an impact hat and only concern themselves with the impact of an idea and another might be wearing a constraints hat and only looking at the constraints of an idea. 

You can pick and choose which angles are most important to your organization. And by the end of the group discussion, the whole brainstorming group should be able to hang their hats feeling confident about the ideas you’ll pursue.

Best for: group brainstorms (six or more people), introverted team members, vetting ideas thoroughly

15. Figure storming

Ever heard the phrase, “What would Abe do?” That’s pretty much the premise of this brainstorming technique in that brainstormers take on the identity of a famous or prominent figure, whether that’s a leader or celebrity, and put themselves in their brain space and how they’d approach an idea. 

This helps teams look at a topic through a different lens and, in the case of group brainstorms, alleviates any nervousness that brainstormers will put out bad ideas. Because they’re not putting out their ideas—they’re sharing someone else’s. So go on and give yourself a new job title for the day.

Best for: individual and group brainstorms, extroverted team members

16. Role storming  

Role storming is similar to figure storming in that brainstormers take on different personalities to dream up ideas, but with one dramatic twist—brainstormers act out those ideas. 

Generally, brainstormers are asked to take on the role of an average person who will be affected by the idea or solution in question, whether that’s an employee, client, or another party, and they act out a scenario that could stem from the idea to help them decipher what problems might arise from it. Consider this brainstorming technique for more extroverted teams. 

Best for: group brainstorms, extroverted team members

17. Reverse brainstorming

Reverse brainstorming is grounded in a little bit of chaos. It encourages brainstormers to play the role of disruptors by brainstorming problems first and then solutions. To kick off the brainstorming questions, a team leader will usually ask, “How do we cause [insert problem]?”

Once your team has listed the causes, they’ll have a new and different perspective for coming up with solutions to problems. 

Best for: group brainstorms, idea generation, problem-solving

18. Reverse thinking

Reverse thinking is a bit of a mashup of the figure storming and six thinking hats brainstorming techniques. It encourages brainstormers to merely ask themselves, “What would someone else do in this situation?” Then, it prompts them to think through why that person’s solution would work or not and if your current solution is more effective. 

Best for: group brainstorms, extroverted team members, vetting ideas thoroughly

Group brainstorm techniques

Group brainstorming techniques

Most brainstorming techniques can be applied to groups of brainstormers, but these specific brainstorming techniques promote (and some even require) participation from everyone. When facilitated well, group brainstorming techniques not only yield more ideas but they can also:

Boost team morale through lighthearted brainstorming games and by involving participation in every step of the brainstorming process

Promote creative thinking, especially when brainstormers are given time to prepare their ideas and  a structured approach to solve problems

Bring more diverse ideas together, thanks to the unique perspective each brainstormer has and their individual strengths

All this to say, group brainstorming techniques are all about putting people’s heads together. 

19. Eidetic image method

The eidetic image method is grounded in setting intentions, and it begins with group members all closing their eyes to do just that. For example, if a company is setting out to design a new smartwatch, the brainstorming facilitator would encourage all brainstormers to close their eyes and quietly meditate on what smartwatches currently look like. 

Then the group would discuss and close their eyes once more and quietly imagine new features to add to the device. They’d all open their eyes and discuss again, essentially layering on the possibilities for enhancing a product. This brainstorming technique is ideal for revamping or building on an existing product or solution. 

Best for: visual thinkers, creating an idea anew

20. Rapid ideation

Great for teams that get sidetracked or have difficulty staying focused in meetings, the rapid ideation brainstorming technique encourages brainstormers to race against a clock and come up with as many ideas as possible—and importantly, not take themselves too seriously. This can be done by having brainstormers shout out ideas to a facilitator or write them on a piece of paper. You might find that some of the same ideas keep popping up, which likely means those are worth pursuing. 

Best for: extroverted team members, tight deadlines

21. Round-robin brainstorming

Participation is required for the round-robin brainstorming technique. Everyone must contribute at least one idea before the entire group can give feedback or share a second idea.

Given the requirement that everyone must share an idea, it’s best to allow brainstormers time to prepare ideas before each round-robin brainstorming session. This brainstorming technique is great for introverted team members and also for larger groups to ensure everyone can contribute. Moreover, the round-robin brainstorming technique also promotes the notion that the only bad idea is no idea. 

Best for: introverted team members and developing a surplus of ideas

22. Step-ladder brainstorming

Ideal for medium-sized groups of five to 15 people, the step-ladder brainstorming technique prevents ideas from being influenced by the loudest brainstormers of a group. 

Here’s how it works: A brainstorming facilitator introduces a topic to their group of brainstormers and then dismisses all but two brainstormers from the room. The two brainstormers left in the room discuss their ideas for a few minutes and then one brainstormer is welcomed back into the room and shares their ideas before the original two brainstormers divulge their ideas. 

Brainstormers are added back into the room one by one, with each new brainstormer sharing their ideas before the rest of the group divulges theirs, and so forth. Once the entire brainstorming group is back in the room, it’s time to discuss the ideas they’ve built together, step by step. 

Best for: introverted team members, vetting ideas thoroughly, honing in on an executable solution

23. Charrette

You might want to book a few rooms for this one. The charette brainstorming technique helps break up a problem into smaller chunks and also breaks up your brainstormers into separate teams to address them. 

For instance, you might reserve three rooms, write a topic or problem on a whiteboard, and have three sets of brainstormers walk into those rooms to jot down their ideas. Then, the sets of brainstormers rotate rooms and build off of the ideas of the group that was there before them. Consider it effective teamwork at its best.

Best for: vetting ideas thoroughly, honing in on an executable solution

More brainstorming techniques

For more unconventional approaches to get your individual or your team’s wheels turning, consider adding some of these brainstorming techniques to your arsenal of ways to ideate. 

24. ‘What if’ brainstorming

A very off-the-cuff brainstorming technique, “what if” brainstorming is as simple as throwing out as many “what if” questions surrounding a topic as possible, similar to the rapid ideation brainstorming technique. For instance, “what if this problem occurred in a different country,” or, “what if this problem occurred in the 1800s?” 

Walking through the scenarios might help spur new obstacles pertaining to your problem. Essentially, the “what if” brainstorming technique helps your team evaluate all the possibilities.

Best for: individual and group brainstorms, creating an idea anew, vetting ideas thoroughly

25. Change of scenery  

It’s no secret that physical surroundings can impact your team workflow and even creativity. When your brainstorming session is in a rut, consider relocating to another location, perhaps a park, a walking meeting, or even a coffee shop.

Being in a new setting might spur new ideas and even loosen up your brainstormers so that they’re more open to sharing ideas and helping you achieve quantity over quality.  

Best for: individual and group brainstorms, creating an idea anew

26. Random word picker

As this name implies, this brainstorming technique is a little random. Begin by tossing words into a hat and then pull them out and discuss how they relate to your brainstorming topic at hand. You may want to use a template to keep track of your thoughts and any new ideas the word association sparks.

To further organize your thoughts, consider pairing this brainstorming technique with word banking, meaning categorizing random words together and then drawing associations between their category and the brainstorming topic. 

Best for: group brainstorms, creating an idea anew

27. Storyboarding

Turns out, storyboarding isn’t only for television and film. You can also apply this as a brainstorming technique, meaning illustrating or drawing a problem and possible solutions. Consider it another way to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, especially those your solution impacts. It’s also a means to visualize any roadblocks you might experience when executing a solution. 

Best for: individual or group brainstorms, problem-solving, vetting ideas thoroughly

28. Wishing

Wishing is as simple as it sounds: You just wish for the solution you want to build. Think: “I wish our company was carbon neutral,” and then think of the possible ways in which you could achieve this, as well as areas that might be impossible to address for this. This will help uncover obstacles you might face and maybe even shed light on what you’re capable of overcoming. 

Best for: individual or group brainstorms, creating an idea anew

29. Crazy eights

A short and fun brainstorming technique, crazy eights delivers on quantity by encouraging brainstormers to think quickly using a template that has eight boxes and only eight minutes on the clock to sketch out eight ideas. Once the timer stops, the group discusses their ideas. 

For a larger group, consider having each brainstormer narrow in on only three ideas and give them a longer time limit of six minutes to sketch them out in more detail.

Best for: group brainstorms, visual thinkers, developing a surplus of ideas

8 tips for a productive brainstorming session

No matter which brainstorming technique is right for you and your team, consider the following best practices to brainstorm most effectively . Of course, it all begins with the brainstorming facilitator and how they set the tone for the session.

1. Allow time to prep 

A brainstorming facilitator isn’t the only one in a brainstorming session who needs time to prepare for a meeting . They also should give brainstormers some context ahead of the session, such as in the form of a meeting agenda , to get in the correct mindset for the brainstorming session. 

At least one day is standard but as little as two to 10 minutes is useful. Moreover, brainstorming facilitators should also have a few ideas in their back pocket for any creative ruts that might creep in.

2. Set a clear intention

The more context you can provide brainstormers from the get-go, the more fruitful ideas they can produce. For instance, clearly spell out what types of ideas you’re looking for. Whether it’s quickly executable ones or ones that are entirely pathbreaking, identify specific targets to address. 

Additionally, be sure to let brainstormers know of any constraints you or your organization is operating under, including project timelines or budgets, so they’re generating executable ideas.

3. Invite new teammates and ideas

When the same people brainstorm together over and over, they can tend to produce the same ideas over and over. For this reason, consider introducing new people to your brainstorming session to shake up the usual and lend a fresh perspective—and hopefully fresh ideas—to your brainstorming topics. Invitees can be colleagues from different departments, customers or clients for a focus group, or an outside consultant.

4. Promote inclusivity

Every brainstorming session should be considered a safe space to share ideas—even unconventional ones. Remember, the only bad ideas are no ideas, and any idea shared shouldn’t be shot down or judged. In addition, the brainstorm facilitator should ensure every brainstormer is treated equally and given the same amount of time to talk. This might mean setting a timer for each brainstormer to talk and acknowledging those who are dominating conversations. Likewise, every brainstormer should be open and curious to ideas.

5. Think out of the box

Creative thinking begins with not taking ourselves too seriously. Just as you encourage inclusivity, encourage imperfections and out-of-the-box thinking, too. This could include anything from fun team building games to unique icebreaker questions. Hey, even a bevy of silly ideas to build off of is better than no ideas at all. Brainstorming techniques like wishing can encourage team members to open up.

6. Amplify creativity with music

Similar to how a change of scenery can inspire new ideas, even a little background music can promote creativity. Consider putting some on for your brainstorming session, and for the best results ensure it’s:


In a major key

On a fixed tempo and volume

7. Mix and match brainstorming techniques

Just as brainstorming techniques aren’t necessarily one-size-fits-all, they also aren’t all one-type-fits-every-session. Be prepared to pivot your brainstorming technique depending on what your group of brainstormers is most receptive to and also how many ideas you're juggling. 

8. Execute your ideas 

Coming up with bright ideas is great. But they’re pretty useless unless you effectively execute them. While some brainstorming techniques build the execution process into them, others might require you to follow up with brainstormers using project templates to map out a plan using creative solutions. 

Brainstorming is about quantity over quality

When done right, a brainstorming session shouldn’t feel like a chore but rather an opportunity to create something together, especially when your brainstorming technique supports different styles of thinking and expression. 

And whether you're operating as an individual or on a team, there’s something uniquely satisfying about seeing your ideas come to fruition. Get the creative ideas flowing, then customize your workflow management tool to turn those ideas into action. 

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Chances are that you would have come across the? concept ?of? using ? Brainstorming ?at one time or another in your corporate career.? Brainstorming ?is the most used and abused word in the corporate corridors. If done in a fit and proper manner, the benefits of using brainstorming for problem solving are immense.

What is Brainstorming?

Brainstorming is a conference technique by which a group attempts to find a solution for a specific problem by amassing all the ideas spontaneously by its members. Alex F?Osborn is the father of this technique who detailed it in his book titled? Applied Imagination ?published in 1963. He claimed that brainstorming was more effective than individuals working alone in generating ideas.

Guidelines for conducting a Brainstorming Session

There are a series of steps that should be followed in order to make the best use of the brainstorming session.

1.?????Assembling of a group of members who want to participate

2.?????Presenting a problem or an issue to members.

3.?????Encouraging them to propose a solution without cutting them out

4.?????Consolidating all the proposals/solutions.

5.?????Evaluating these proposals/solutions to identify the appropriate ones.

The leader who facilitates the session must be objective and be adept in presenting the problem or subject for brainstorming clearly. The focus of the sessions must be on quantity of ideas rather than quality with the group having multidisciplinary participation.

Members must be invited to build on ideas of other members to get the conversation flowing. Judgment or critical comments on the proposal of a member by others should be discouraged, as it would shut down the ideation process. Mutual respect should be maintained and everyone should believe that every member has a potential to contribute.

If guided well a brainstorming session can bring hidden ideas and thoughts to the forefront, a lot of these get washed under the carpet in day-to-day affairs. A word of caution for conducting these sessions is to have a mature leader guide the session so that people don?t feel let down or are bulldozed by heavy ideas. Remember brainstorming is not about winning, its is about getting all the possibilities on the table ? good or bad and then the group looks at the pros and cons of each without hanging the ones whose ideas were rejected.


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Brainstorming helps in to get different ideas from different people. Brainstroming means suddenly unable to think clearly

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brainstorming session to identify problem solving methods and techniques

The 6 problems with brainstorming and how to overcome them

brainstorming session to identify problem solving methods and techniques

Brainstorming has long been favored as the go-to strategy for businesses looking for new ideas for products, campaigns or solutions to problems. However, as the way we work and manage people changes, the effectiveness of the brainstorming process has increasingly come under scrutiny.

The 6 problems with brainstorming

The six problems with brainstorming we hear about the most are the negative effects of groupthink, difficulties when working remotely, peer pressure, personality differences, focusing on the problems, and disengaged participants.

So let’s dive in and take a look at each of the issues, and how we can overcome them.

Negative effects of groupthink

The Harvard Business Review explains groupthink as “when you bring a group together to generate ideas, they tend to think alike, converging on a common solution”. Obviously, the ideal brainstorming session should produce as many ideas as possible initially. Its purpose is not to find one solution, rather a multitude of potential ideas that can be explored further. However, groupthink is a common issue, especially noticeable when you have one or two more dominant voices who really sell their idea to the group.

What’s the fix?

Groupthink can easily be overcome with one simple change- letting individuals work on a problem alone. You could do this by using a brainstorming strategy such as Brainwriting which asks team members to write down ideas, rather than say them aloud. Or you could simply ask everyone to come to the meeting with a few pre-prepared ideas to share with the group.

Difficulties when working remotely

In the age of Covid-19, the old approach of gathering around a whiteboard armed with stacks of Post-It notes is no longer possible. While some managers may fear this is the end of brainstorming, it actually opens up new approaches that are just as, if not more effective.

Fortunately, we have plenty of tools that enable us to brainstorm in a remote environment effectively. Conceptboard’s unlimited whiteboard space allows teams to collaborate in real-time using sticky notes, pens, highlighters and shapes to share their ideas. Plus, with 15 different brainstorming style templates purpose-built for online brainstorming, you don’t have to stick to the old approach. It’s time to look forward and try new things.

Peer pressure

Peer pressure is the influence of others to interact and think a certain way. You may not think this is something that comes into play during a brainstorming session, but unfortunately, it’s very common. People may feel peer pressured to agree with certain ideas that have come from people in positions above them for fear of retribution. Or, they may not feel comfortable sharing their own ideas that may go against the grain.

The  Crazy Eights technique is a great way to quickly generate a wide range of diverse ideas from the whole team. The concept is simple: give each team member eight minutes to sketch out eight ideas on a Crazy Eights template, completely in isolation from everyone else. The frenzy that follows can produce some pretty wild ideas. That way, no one needs to feel any pressure or embarrassment around their ideas.

crazy eights design thinking

Personality differences

If your team is a mix of introverts and extroverts, you’ll really notice the gap between the two during brainstorming. Where extroverts will have no problem sharing their wildest ideas in front of a group, the same can’t be said for shy introverts. So if you really want your brainstorming session to be inclusive and ensure every voice is heard, you’ll need to set up some parameters.

This one can be a tricky one, but the first step to fixing it is to be aware of it. Try to prepare for your brainstorming by considering who you will invite, and their skills and personalities. You may want to share the problem beforehand to give some people time to prepare. During the session, you could give everyone a few minutes to come up with their own ideas before presenting them to the group. Or you could use the timer to give everyone equal speaking time. Alternatively, using a brainstorming template may provide enough structure to ensure everyone gets the chance to participate.

Disengaged participants

There’s nothing more energy-sucking than sitting in a meeting that’s going nowhere. So if you notice participants are losing focus and energy, it’s not going to be a very productive meeting. While there may be other things going on, chances are the biggest problem is that your team is not invested in the outcome.

If you want to ensure a productive brainstorming session, you need to start by getting buy-in from participants. This starts with fully explaining the problem and the reason why it’s important to find a solution. Without this context, it’s hard to get excited.

Many people believe that the key to solving problems is by asking the right questions in the first place. The clearer the problem is, the more efficient team members will be in coming up with ideas to solve it. So you may want to start the session by completing a Problem Statement .

Customer problem statement example

Focusing on the problems

If your team is overwhelmed or bogged down in a project, they may not have the ability to see through the problems. They may feel exhausted by the weight of the task ahead, thus approaching the brainstorming session with a lacklustre approach. So, what if we told you there’s a way to take advantage of that negativity. Instead of shutting down the problems, you can use them as the jumping off point for ideation.

Reverse brainstorming employs our ability to see problems  more easily than solutions . It’s a clever brainstorming approach that leans into our natural tendency to criticize and see flaws in a plan. So by starting with the problems, the team can then move onto making a plan for ongoing success. Give it a try and see how it can this creative approach can help you solve complex problems that feel too big.

Overcome problems with brainstorming on Conceptboard

As you can see, brainstorming still plays an important role in business. But as the working landscape shifts, we need to be willing to adapt our approaches to ensure they’re still effective.

Conceptboard is the ultimate solution for real-time collaboration within remote teams. See how your team can benefit and start your 30 day free trial today.

Read about our 10 tips for successful virtual collaboration in 2021 on our blog.

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Super guide: effective brainstorming techniques.

The Super Guide about Effective Brainstorming Techniques is a complete guide on which brainstorming techniques you can use (and how to use them) to solve problems, generate new ideas, and more…

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Read an excerpt from this Effective Brainstorming Techniques Super Guide:

“Another benefit of brainstorming is that it encourages collaboration and teamwork. It is possible to tap into a team’s diverse perspectives and expertise by bringing a group of people together to solve a problem or generate new ideas. This can lead to more creative and successful ideas than if one person worked alone.”

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Brainstorming – A Problem Solving Approach

by Deepak Rajpal · Published September 25, 2014 · Updated September 26, 2014

Brainstorming is a popular idea invention and problem solving technique. Brainstorming is a method that is used by leaders and managers when they need to deal with complex problems. Brainstorming helps when there is need to manifest the next steps in difficult situations.

According you Wiki , Brainstorming is a group or individual creativity technique by which efforts are made to find a conclusion for a specific problem by gathering a list of ideas spontaneously contributed by its member(s).

Brainstorming can be very helpful in the decision making of our daily life. I Brainstorm when need to find a creative idea or solutions for a problem. There are many steps and definitions are available on the internet for Brainstorming. I will lay down how I do it. First, let us see when we can take advantage of brainstorming.

Brainstorming helps:

Steps to Brainstorming:

MindTools.com has some nice tools to assist with Brainstorming

“Remember, a real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided.” ~ Anthony Robbins

How Brainstorming increase Productivity:

Whenever a complex problem comes, we think about it a lot. However, just thinking never helps. It is necessary to have some organized thoughts and information.

Writing down and organizing options/alternatives is the key in Brainstorming. Brainstorming helps mind to focus to the solutions rather than the problem. Our mind works fast in that way and this leads to an efficient and creative decision.

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Deepak Rajpal

Deepak Rajpal is a Motivational Author, and founder of VisionShine.com. He lives in New Delhi, a beautiful capital of India. He contributes to several other blogs as well. He is also a Software Engineer expert in WordPress development. To know more about him, you can please visit DeepakRajpal.com

2 Responses

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Hey Deepak,

Great post. Brainstorming is a great way to generate a lot of ideas. There are a lot of iPhone and Android apps that help the brainstorming process too!

Keep up the great posts.

The Digital Bridges

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Thank You “The Digital Bridges” for stopping by 🙂 You are right, Technology offer us wide options for self-improvement today.

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19 Top Brainstorming Techniques to Generate Ideas for Every Situation

Lisa Jo Rudy

What’s the best way to brainstorm? While there are basic rules that make the process meaningful and effective, there are dozens of ways to inspire creative ideas. Many facilitators use more than one technique in a single brainstorming session to keep the creative juices flowing while supporting different styles of thought and expression.

Brainstorming process

Depending upon your situation, you may want to start with one of the unique approaches described below. Or… you may want to start with “basic brainstorming,” and then switch things up as needed to ensure you generate a good quantity of really useful, creative ideas.

Basic brainstorming isn't complex—though there are important techniques for ensuring success. Here, in a nutshell, is how basic brainstorming works:

While this process may be simple in theory. But it’s not always easy to generate new ideas out of nowhere. And that’s why so many interesting and inspirational brainstorming techniques have been developed. 

Discover which techniques are the best fit for your next brainstorming session.

Analytic Brainstorming

When brainstorming focuses on problem solving, it can be useful to analyze the problem with tools that lead to creative solutions. Analytic brainstorming is relatively easy for most people because it draws on idea generation skills they’ve already built in school and in the workplace. No one gets embarrassed when asked to analyze a situation!

1. Mind Mapping 

Mind mapping is a visual tool for enhancing the brainstorming process. In essence, you’re drawing a picture of the relationships among and between ideas. 

Start by writing down your goal or challenge and ask participants to think of related issues. Layer by layer, add content to your map so that you can visually see how, for example, a problem with the telephone system is contributing to issues with quarterly income. Because it's become so popular, it's easy to find mind mapping software online . The reality, though, is that a large piece of paper and a few markers can also do the job.

2. Reverse Brainstorming

Ordinary brainstorming asks participants to solve problems. Reverse brainstorming asks participants to come up with great ways to cause a problem. Start with the problem and ask “how could we cause this?” Once you've got a list of great ways to create problems, you’re ready to start solving them! Learn about how to run a reverse brainstorming session: 

brainstorming session to identify problem solving methods and techniques

3. Gap Filling

Start with a statement of where you are. Then write a statement of where you’d like to be. How can you fill in the gap to get to your goal? Your participants will respond with a wide range of answers from the general to the particular. Collect them all, and then organize them to develop a vision for action.

4. Drivers Analysis

Work with your group to discover the drivers behind the problem you’re addressing. What’s driving client loyalty down? What’s driving the competition? What’s driving a trend toward lower productivity? As you uncover the drivers, you begin to catch a glimpse of possible solutions.

5. SWOT Analysis

SWOT Analysis identifies organization strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Usually, it’s used to decide whether a potential project or venture is worth undertaking. In brainstorming, it’s used to stimulate collaborative analysis. What are our real strengths? Do we have weaknesses that we rarely discuss? New ideas can come out of this tried-and-true technique. 

6. The Five Whys

Another tool that’s often used outside of brainstorming, the Five Whys can also be effective for getting thought processes moving forward. Simply start with a problem you’re addressing and ask “why is this happening?” Once you've got some answers, ask “why does this happen?” Continue the process five times (or more), digging deeper each time until you’ve come to the root of the issue. Dig into the details of this process:

brainstorming session to identify problem solving methods and techniques

7. Starbursting

Create a six-pointed star. At the center of the star, write the challenge or opportunity you’re facing. At each point of the star, write one of the following words: who, what, where, when, why, and how. Use these words to generate questions. Who are our happiest clients? What do our clients say they want? Use the questions to generate discussion. Learn more about Starbursting in this Envato Tuts+ tutorial, which includes a helpful worksheet:

brainstorming session to identify problem solving methods and techniques

Quiet Brainstorming

In some situations, individuals are so cramped for time that a brainstorming session would be impossible to schedule. In other situations, team members are unwilling to speak up in a group or to express ideas that others might not approve of. When that’s the case, you might be well served with brainstorming techniques that allow participants to generate ideas without meeting or without the need for public participation.

8. Brain-Netting (Online Brainstorming)

Perhaps not surprisingly, brain netting involves brainstorming on the Internet. This requires someone to set up a system where individuals can share their ideas privately, but then collaborate publicly. There are software companies that specialize in just such types of systems, like Slack  or  Google Docs . 

Once ideas have been generated, it may be a good idea to come together in person, but it’s also possible that online idea generation and discussion will be successful on its own. This is an especially helpful approach for remote teams to use, though any team can make use of it. Learn more about this brainstorming technique: 

brainstorming session to identify problem solving methods and techniques

9. Brainwriting (or Slip Writing)

The brain writing process involves having each participant anonymously write down ideas on index cards. The ideas can then be randomly shared with other participants who add to or critique the ideas. Or, the ideas can be collected and sifted by the management team. This approach is also called “Crawford Slip Writing,” as the basic concept was invented in the 1920’s by a professor named Crawford.

10. Collaborative Brainwriting

Write your question or concern on a large piece of paper and post it in a public place. Ask team members to write or post their ideas when they're able, over the course of a week. Collate ideas on your own or with your group's involvement.

Learn more about brainwriting methods:

brainstorming session to identify problem solving methods and techniques

Role Play Brainstorming

What do customers/clients/managers really want? What are the challenges we face internally or externally? Very often, those questions are best answered by internal and external clients. Role play allows your team to “become” their own clients, which often provides surprisingly potent insights into challenges and solutions. Another plus of role play is that, in some cases, it lowers participants’ inhibitions. Variants of role play include Rolestorming, Reverse Thinking, and Figure Storming.

11. Role Storming

Ask your participants to imagine themselves in the role of a person whose experience relates to your brainstorming goal (a client, upper management, a service provider). Act out a scene, with participants pretending to take the other’s point of view. Why might they be dissatisfied? What would it take for them to feel better about their experience or outcomes? Learn more about this innovative way to come up with ideas as a team: 

brainstorming session to identify problem solving methods and techniques

12. Reverse Thinking

This creative approach asks, “what would someone else do in our situation?” Then imagine doing the opposite. Would it work? Why or why not? Does the “usual” approach really work well, or are there better options?

13. Figure Storming

Choose a figure from history or fiction with whom everyone is familiar—Teddy Roosevelt, for example, or Mother Theresa. What would that individual do to manage the challenge or opportunity you’re discussing? How might that figure’s approach work well or poorly?

Brainstorming With Support

For groups that aren't creative or communicative or are likely to get stuck once the most obvious ideas have been suggested, help is in order. You can provide that help up front by setting up the brainstorming process to include everyone in a structured, supportive manner. A few techniques for this type of brainstorming include Step Ladder Brainstorming, Round Robin Brainstorming, Rapid Ideation, and Trigger Storming. 

14. Step Ladder Brainstorming

Start by sharing the brainstorming challenge with everyone in the room. Then send everyone out of the room to think about the challenge—except two people. 

Allow the two people in the room to come up with ideas for a short period of time, and then allow just one more person to enter the room. Ask the new person to share their ideas with the first two before discussing the ideas already generated. 

After a few minutes ask another person to come in, and then another. In the long run, everyone will be back in the room—and everyone will have had a chance to share his or her ideas with colleagues.

15. Round Robin Brainstorming

A “round robin” is a game in which everyone gets a chance to take part. That means everyone:

This is a great way to encourage shy (or uninterested) individuals to speak up while keeping dominant personalities from taking over the brainstorming session.

16. Rapid Ideation

This simple technique can be surprising fruitful. Ask the individuals in your group to write down as many ideas as they can in a given period of time. Then either have them share the ideas aloud or collect responses. Often, you’ll find certain ideas popping up over and over. In some cases, these are the obvious ideas. But in some cases, they may provide some revelations.

17. Trigger Storming

This variant on the round robin approach starts with a “trigger” to help people come up with thoughts and ideas. Possible triggers include open ended sentences or provocative statements. For example, “Client issues always seem to come up when ____,” or “The best way to solve client problems is to pass the problem along to someone else.”

Radically Creative Brainstorming  

If your team seems to be stuck on conventional answers to brainstorming challenges, you may need to stir the pot to help them generate creative ideas by using techniques that need out-of-the-box thinking. These may include the Charrette approach and "what if" challenges.

18. Charrette

Imagine a brainstorming session in which 35 people from six different departments are all struggling to come up with viable ideas. The process is time consuming, boring, and—all too often—unfruitful. The Charrette method breaks up the problem into smaller chunks, with small groups discussing each element of the problem for a set period of time. Once each group has discussed one issue, their ideas are passed on to the next group who builds on them. By the end of the Charrette, each idea may have been discussed five or six times—and the ideas discussed have been refined.

19. "What If" Brainstorming

What if this problem came up 100 years ago? How would it be solved? What if Superman were facing this problem? How would he manage it? What if the problem were 50 times worse—or much less serious than it really is? What would we do? These are all different types of “what if” scenarios that can spur radically creative thinking—or at least get people laughing and working together!

Brainstorming is a terrific technique for idea generation, coming up with alternatives and possibilities, discovering fatal flaws, and developing creative approaches. But it’s only as good as its participants and facilitator. The better you are at selecting participants, setting the stage, and encouraging discussion, the better your outcomes are likely to be. 

Learn more about running an effective brainstorming session: 

brainstorming session to identify problem solving methods and techniques

No matter how well you’ve prepared, there’s always the chance that distractions, personality clashes, anxiety, or ordinary boredom can get in the way of effective brainstorming. When that happens, you’ll be glad to have a collection of great ideas for moving the process forward! 

Lisa Jo Rudy

Coaching, Online Training Courses, Learning Resources and People Development Training to Train the Trainer

Brainstorming technique for innovation, creativity and problem solving – a business strategy

04/11/2016 by Mike Morrison 20 Comments

Introduction to Brainstorming

Brainstorm image

Brainstorming as a technique is most effective with groups of between 8 and 12 people performed in a relaxed environment.

History of Brainstorming

Brainstorming is a technique often used by groups, but can be done alone (although this is not as effective) to generate a large number of ideas for the solution of a problem.

The technique was first documented in the late 1930s by Alex F Osborn in his book called Applied Imagination. In this publication Osborn proposed that groups could double their creative output with brainstorming.

While brainstorming has grown over the years to become a popular group problem solving and creativity technique, there has been little evidence of its effectiveness for enhancing either quantity or quality of ideas generated.

Although traditional brainstorming does not necessarily increase the productivity of groups (as measured by the number of ideas generated), it often provides benefits, such as boosting morale, enhancing work enjoyment, and improving team work.

Purpose of Brainstorming

Creative group facilitation technique that encourages participation from all group members.

Graphical representation of Brainstorming


Description of an approach

A typical brainstorming session will require:

The responsibilities of the facilitator include:

Brainstorming works best with a varied group of people. Even in areas involving specialists people from outside of the sector or industry can often bring a fresh idea or approach that inspires the thinking of the experts.

Ground Rules for effective brainstorming In the classical approach to brainstorming there are four basic rules. These rules are designed to reduce social inhibitions among groups members, stimulate idea generation, and increase overall creativity of the group:

Conducting a brainstorming session

The facilitator leads the brainstorming session and ensures that ground rules are followed. The steps in a typical session are:

Some of the techniques and vehicles to which brainstorming can be used:

Classic brainstorming

The group is responsible for focusing its attention on a problem or question for a limited period of time, no longer than 90 minutes. The objective is to generate as many solutions as possible. With the group select the five best ideas, the criteria for judging them and score them on a scale of 1-5. The best idea is the one with the highest score.

The Challenge

The problem is exaggerated or made more difficult than it really is which forces the problem to be addressed from a different perspective and gets the group to think creatively about solutions.

Each member of the group is asked to pose a minimum of three “what if?” questions about the problem/question/topic. For example, the question is, “How do we reduce employee turnover”, “what if we doubled everyone’s salary?” This technique enables the consideration of hypothetical solutions that are not part of everyday thinking.

Role Playing

Ask colleagues from a different department, other firms or countries how they would solve the problem. An original solution may be developed by viewing the problem from a different professional perspective.

The Wrong Way

Instead of generating ideas or solving problems, the group deliberately tries to generate poor ideas or ways to make the problem worse. For example if trying to improve client retention, ask “What could we do to ensure clients never purchased from us again?” By focusing on poor client service, the focus is on the issues that matter most to the client, which generate ideas that are better positioned to solve the problem.

A metaphor is a word or phrase that symbolizes something other than its literal meaning. An example of using metaphors when brainstorming is, when seeking to energize the maintenance team visualize them as a football team, how would you improve their performance? By applying metaphors, you may gain a fresh perspective on the problem.

Word Associations

Instead of generating specific solutions or ideas, the group simply generates whatever word or phrase that comes to mind. For example, if the group is discussing ways to improve the interior appearance of the main office, they might generate words like: “fabric”, “colour”, “paint”, and “texture”. Later these key phrases can be used to develop action plans.

Risky Options

This brainstorming technique encourages wild and risky approaches to problems. Normally members of the group may be afraid to suggest unusual or risky options because they are overcome by the fear of failure or group criticism. You may even provide a prize for the riskiest option.

Group members play “the hunter” by scanning through newspapers, magazines, literature etc. hunting for random ideas that might have a bearing on the problem they are trying to solve. This technique can be used equally well with small groups and individuals.

Brainstorming and epilepsy – political correctness run amok

In the press some have claimed that the term “Brainstorming” may be derogatory to epileptics. The word ‘brainstorming’ is not offensive to the vast majority of people with epilepsy, according to a survey carried out by the National Society for Epilepsy .

The word has been used since the 1940s to describe the method of problem-solving or generating ideas where all present at a meeting make spontaneous suggestions.In the survey, 93 per cent of people with epilepsy did not find the term derogatory or offensive in any way and many felt that this sort of political correctness singled out people with epilepsy as being easily offended.

Ref http://www.epilepsy.org.uk/node/1078

Alternative words thought-showers, blue-sky thinking, Boardblast

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About Mike Morrison

Mike is a consultant and change agent specialising in developing skills in senior people to increase organizational performance. Mike is also founder & director of RapidBI, an organizational effectiveness consultancy. Check out his linkedin profile MikeMorrison LinkedIn Profile

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brainstorming session to identify problem solving methods and techniques


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How to brainstorm

Brainstorming is a method for generating novel ideas and innovative solutions to problems. With the right techniques and approach, your brainstorming activities can unlock your team’s most creative thoughts.

Brainstorming session in Miro

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brainstorming session to identify problem solving methods and techniques

What is brainstorming, and what does "brainstorm" mean?

Brainstorming is a creative thinking technique for coming up with new ideas and solving problems. Teams use this ideation method to encourage new ways of thinking and collectively generate solutions. But what is a brainstorm, and where does it originate? The concept of a brainstorm dates back to the 19th century, but back then, it was used to describe mental disturbance or mania. Over a century later, in the late 1930s, Alex F. Osborn used the term in the advertising and marketing industry. Osborn introduced brainstorming as a solution to his team’s frustration in coming up with new and exciting ideas — the same reason that many companies employ brainstorming in the modern era. There is no one brainstorming definition because there are so many approaches to brainstorming and techniques to choose from. But if you’re looking for a brainstorm synonym, you can think of brainstorming as “free thinking” or “creative ideation.” This guide will help you get the most out of evey creative session. When you're ready to start your next free thinking exercise, jump into Miro’s brainstorming tool to generate ideas and turn them into action.

What is the main purpose of brainstorming?

The primary purpose of a brainstorming session is to generate and document many ideas, no matter how “out there” they might seem. Through this lateral thinking process, inventive ideas are suggested, which sparks creative solutions. By encouraging everyone to think more freely and not be afraid to share their ideas, teams can build on each other’s thoughts to find the best possible solution to a problem. Brainstorming usually takes place in a group setting where people get together to creatively solve problems and come up with ideas. However, it’s also useful for individuals who need to explore novel solutions to a problem. Sitting down by yourself and writing down solutions to potential problems is a great way to brainstorm individually. Focusing your mind on a defined problem allows you to think of many creative ways to get to an answer. While brainstorming normally allows for free-form methods of thinking and doesn’t require many rules, the best results usually stem from controlled sessions. Posing questions and role-playing different scenarios during the brainstorming session is a smart way to pull out unusual ideas and never-before-thought-of solutions.

Brainstorming session example

Benefits of brainstorming

Why is brainstorming such a popular approach to solving problems and generating ideas? Here are some of its many advantages.

Encourages creativity

Brainstorming sessions are meant to be free of judgment. Everyone involved is meant to feel safe and confident enough to speak their minds. There will be some good and some bad ideas, but this doesn’t matter as long as the final outcome is one that can solve the problem. This kind of free-thinking environment, along with a few essential brainstorming rules, encourage creativity in the workplace.

Fosters collaboration and team building

Brainstorming is not only good for problem-solving. It also allows employees and team members to understand how the people around them think. It helps the team get to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and helps build a more inclusive and close-knit workforce.

Collaborative brainstorming

Generates innovative, revolutionary ideas

Brainstorming is the perfect mix between a free-thinking, creative environment and one that is governed by rules. Being faced with a defined problem or asking questions like “What do we do in X scenario?” forces everyone in the room to come up with ideas and solutions. No two people think alike. So, combining the good parts of everyone’s answers will result in holistic and revolutionary solutions.

Establishes different perspectives

One of the major benefits of brainstorming is that it allows and encourages all members of the session to freely propose ideas. This type of environment fosters courage in people who may not usually offer their perspective on a problem. Garnering a range of different perspectives can lead to a never-before-thought-of solution.

Introduces many ideas quickly

The beauty of brainstorming is that it encourages teams to come up with many ideas in a relatively short period of time. Ideas are thrown around, and every train of thought is documented. Different perspectives give different answers, and sifting through a few good answers in quick succession may lead to the perfect solution in no time.

Types of brainstorming techniques

There are plenty of creative brainstorming techniques to choose from. Here are some of the most popular ones.

Reverse brainstorming

In a typical brainstorming session, the group is asked to consider solutions to a problem. This means that they will spend time thinking about the outcome — the end goal — rather than the root of the problem — the starting point. Reverse brainstorming is simply the opposite: teams are asked to ideate on the problem instead of the solution. This type of brainstorming is done before the start of an important project, as it helps teams anticipate any future obstacles that might arise. To help frame this way of thinking, use a Reverse Brainstorming Template to get the team started.

Random word brainstorming

One of the main goals of a brainstorming session is to come up with new ideas. One of the best ways to do this is to say the first words that come to mind when a specific topic or subject is mentioned. Random word brainstorming allows for exactly that. The team is given a problem, and they need to shout out the first words that they think of, regardless of what they are. These words are then written down and later put into interesting combinations to see if they will lead to a usable solution. This brainstorming method is extremely fast and usually very efficient at solving a defined problem. The Random Word Brainstorming Template can help get you started.

Random words brainstorming

The 5 Whys Method

Like the reverse brainstorming method, the 5 Whys method aims to look at the root causes of a problem to stop that same issue from arising again. This method attempts to curb the problem before it can reoccur by asking the question “why?” over and over until it can no longer be answered. Once you reach this stage, you have arrived at the root cause of the issue.


Developed by Bob Earle, an author of creativity books for kids, the SCAMPER model was originally a game aimed at imagination development in adolescents. It has, however, become popular in the corporate world as a means of improving and encouraging creativity in team members when dealing with complex, defined problems. Using this model, your team will view a problem through 7 filters: substitute, combine, adapt, modify, put to another use, eliminate, and reverse.

Rapid ideation

Rapid ideation brainstorming is almost the exact same thinking model as random word brainstorming. In this method, however, everyone writes down the solutions they are thinking of instead of shouting them out. This gives participants a bit more privacy with their immediate thoughts — possibly leading to even more creative and revolutionary outcomes.


Once again, brainstorming can change based on the team’s perspective and each session’s expected outcome. Starburst brainstorming focuses on getting the team to ask questions instead of coming up with answers.

Brainstorming templates

How to hold a brainstorming workshop

Ready to harness the power of a well-run brainstorming session? Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to organize a successful brainstorming workshop.

1. Assign a facilitator

When done as a group, a brainstorming session needs to have boundaries. You need to choose someone who will facilitate the session and provide guidelines for the thinking exercises that the group will partake in. This is so the session doesn’t get too scattered and stays on the right track. The facilitator should pose questions and guide the group from start to finish.

2. Establish context and ensure group understanding

A brainstorming session cannot be properly carried out without context. The group must understand why they are meeting and what the end goal of the session is. Everyone should also understand the meaning of brainstorming and what to expect from the brainstorming process. The brainstorming method that will be used should also be established (see point 5) and explained at the outset.

3. Define an objective

While brainstorming is often looked at as a form of free-thinking creativity, it is best to try to stay within certain rules. It’s essential that you define a clear objective and use the session to reach your predetermined goal.

4. Set a time limit

Setting a defined time limit before the session starts is important to the success of your brainstorming session. No doubt your team could come up with countless ideas, but there has to be a limit on how long the session can run. Knowing that you need to solve a problem within one hour, for instance, will help the team focus on the job at hand and come up with ideas faster. It will also keep everyone thinking about the same problem.

5. Decide on the brainstorming technique

The brainstorming technique that will be used must be decided on before the session begins. The best way to do this is to look at the problem at hand. If you’re looking to prevent obstacles from arising in the future, try the “5 Whys” technique. If you’re looking to come up with new marketing ideas or get creative with workplace conflicts, try the rapid ideation technique.

6. Set some ground rules

As stated above, the best and most productive brainstorming sessions are those that allow for free thinking and creativity within preset boundaries. Brainstorming ground rules are essential to to the success of the session, as they keep everyone focused on the topic at hand and ensure that no one goes off track.

7. Capture all ideas

The entire point of a brainstorming session is to come up with as many ideas as possible, regardless of whether the standalone suggestion will lead to success. This means that you need to use the right tools to document the ideas being suggested. Miro has a host of idea-capturing tools, including a simple-to-use visual platform for remote brainstorming sessions and digital sticky notes .

8. Discuss and vote on ideas

After all the ideas have been captured, it’s time to discuss them. The team needs to be productive in choosing a creative idea that suits the problem, or they can try combining a few ideas to come up with a holistic solution. To make decisions as a group and come to an agreement, teams can use the dot voting method . This technique reveals group priorities and helps everyone reach a consensus on the direction to take.

9. Turn ideas into action

Once the final idea has been chosen, it’s time to create a plan of action and a deadline for the idea to be put in place. Transform your ideas into detailed, tangible steps with the Action Plan Template . This will help with coordination between team members and ensures that nothing is missed.

Action plan template example

Tips for your brainstorming activities

While all brainstorming sessions look a little different, here are some best practices to get the most out of yours.

Record all ideas

If you want to have a successful and productive brainstorming session, it’s important that you capture every idea suggested, good and bad. An idea might seem silly when first brought up, but it might become an invaluable idea as the session moves on. Capture everything, and right at the end, work out which ideas best suit the problem.

Ensure that everyone’s ideas are heard

When brainstorming is done as a group activity, everyone needs to feel comfortable and confident to propose ideas. The best way to make sure the environment fosters these feelings is to make the session feel like a conversation, not a presentation. Create a safe and open environment that gives everyone equal opportunity to voice their opinions and ideas.

Focus on quantity

People often like to say, "Focus on quality, not quantity," but it’s the opposite when brainstorming. In a brainstorming session, you should focus on getting as many ideas on the board as possible, even if they're only one-word ideas. These can all be used to come to a holistic solution at the end of the session. Each suggestion could be invaluable if you're coming up with a combined idea.

Brainstorming should be a fun and creative endeavor. You shouldn’t be too rigid — though some ground rules are important. If your team has weekly brainstorming sessions, try new brainstorming techniques and activities each time you meet. This will keep your team members on their toes and help make them excited about the next meeting. It will also encourage out-of-the-box thinking, which is essential to any successful brainstorming session.

Avoid criticism

We’ll say it again: there are no bad ideas in a brainstorming session. This is the attitude that all team members must adopt when entering the session. No one should be criticized for the ideas that they propose. The best way to foster an environment that is devoid of criticism and encourages creativity is to maintain a relaxed approach. This will make everyone feel comfortable and happy to contribute their ideas.

Generate creative solutions with Miro

Give your team the space and tools they need for blue-sky thinking. Facilitate a fun and productive brainstorming session, and turn your ideas into action.

An Interview with Virgin Pulse’s Michael Pace, Contact Center Week Excellence Award Winner

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10 Brainstorming Techniques and Methods to Start Implementing Today


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10 Brainstorming Techniques and Methods to Start Implementing Today

The pressure of coming up with great ideas and new ways of approaching tasks and issues in the workplace can be a little overwhelming at times — that’s why it’s important to take the time to take a step back, take a breath and look at the bigger picture. While being able to set a time for you and your team to have these types of open-ended brainstorming meetings might seem like a luxury, it’s crucial to squeeze those into your work routines to avoid work slumps and burning out.

Here are a few things to consider to make your brainstorming session the most cohesive and productive that it can be, and a handful of ways to bring those sessions to life.

Team brainstorming on a project with multi-colored sticky notes

What is brainstorming?

Brainstorming is a thought-exploration activity for both problem solving and coming up with new ideas. Brainstorming helps teams and individuals think outside of the box to solve a problem, see issues from all angles, stimulate creative thinking and develop new ideas.

Popular brainstorming techniques include:

10 brainstorming methods for 2019

Brainstorming can take on many different shapes. And just as each person and business is unique, there are many ways to become a brainstorming guru.  Here are 10 types of brainstorming activities to get your creative juices flowing.

1. Brain-netting

As one of the most used brainstorming methods, brain-netting is when everyone on the team can collaborate either privately or publicly via online platforms. For instance, Slack or Google Docs are usually used for private or individual work, with the capability to share and edit simultaneously with colleagues. This way, everyone on your team is building on the same document or idea in an orderly way.

2. Charrette

The Charrette method is when a group of more than 20 participants from different departments come together and break into smaller groups of two or three, divvy up topics and issues among the groups and discuss. Charrette sessions are great for getting immediate results and feedback, while also allowing all participants to have an equal part in the decision-making and brainstorming process.

3. Figure storming or rolestorming

Figure storming is when you and your team put yourselves in someone else’s shoes and make decisions based on what you think that person would do.

4. Gap filling

This method is where you and your team, quite literally, fill in the gap between where you are and where you want to be. With this method, there will be several ways to fill in said gap, so it’s important to document all these iterations online or on a collaborative document so anyone from your team can access, analyze and filter through them.

5. Mind mapping

Mind mapping is the most creative and hands-on way to brainstorm, mixed with sticky notes, diagrams and correlations. Creating a mind map helps you visualize your goal and your challenges in reaching your desired outcome by thinking of associative words, related subgoals or problems. Once you have written down everything that comes to mind and created a huge web of related topics, conversations and ideas, and you can start creating relationships between words and topics to build on your original goals.

6. Round Robin

For all the shy people out there, this is your chance to share your ideas. Everyone in your team sits in a circle and takes turns sharing one idea at a time. There are no wrong or right answers during the round, so everyone gets a chance to speak up! If ideas start to get repeated, ask for a skip and have the group come back to you at the end to present another idea you may have. The second round is open to critiques and open discussions based on ideas presented in the first round.

7. Starbursting

Draw a six-pointed star on a piece of paper. Each point represents a question based on one of the following: who, what, where, when, why and how. Formulate questions based on these six categories that are related to the goal or challenge you are trying to address. With these questions, you can start discussions to get different perspectives on certain themes and then come to a conclusion on what the next steps could be.

8. Stepladder

For those of you on smaller teams, stepladdering can be effective for when your team gets stuck on thinking of new ideas. Get the whole team in the room and start by introducing the main brainstorm challenge. Then have everyone but two people leave the room — these two people will start the discussion and brainstorming process for a couple of minutes. Then add another team member to piggyback on the ideas that are already being discussed. Continue this until everyone is in the room again and each of them has shared some ideas.

9. Storyboarding

Another visual way of brainstorming is literally drawing it out. Make a step-by-step narrative of a problem to thoroughly understand the problem itself. Once you organize your notes in chronological order, you can eliminate notes that are not related to the problem at all. With this overview, your team will then see how the ideas around it can interact to form a solution.

We can’t forget about the classic SWOT analysis! This method stands for “strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.” It is a measured technique where you take internal and external factors into account such as facts, data, market trends and more. By clearly defining where your team succeeds and needs help, you can create a strategic approach to getting the outcome you want, with a clear game plan on how to get there.

Bonus Tip: Create a Brainstorming Playlist

Last but not least, productive music can help you during your brainstorming session to find inspiration, be creative and stay mentally focused. It can be anything from classical music to deep house, as long as the music promotes concentration — in a major key for positivity — and with a consistent volume and rhythm for the focus. Release that dopamine in your brain to prevent yourself from hitting a wall!

4 reasons brainstorming is important

While many brainstorms are used to distill creative thinking into a physical output (list of options, problem solving branches, SWOT analysis), they also help us take a step back to recharge our mental capacity and sharpen our ability to problem solve. Here are four reasons effective brainstorming is important for you and your business:

Generates novel ideas

Idea generation is the first step of many projects. It is important to be open to all ideas, whether they are initially well received or not. Collect as many ideas as you need in the most open-minded manner as possible. Then, innovate and reinvent until you have a distilled set of ideas for your project.

Solves problems

Brainstorming can help you and your business overcome obstacles by preparing you to solve problems as they arise. Getting a group together with a common goal in mind helps you see problems from different angles. With brainstorming, you can identify possible problems and then find effective solutions for each one.

Fosters creative thinking

Brainstorm sessions kick start your brain to think creatively, usually within a limited time frame, and help you shed a light on your most creative ideas. With the right environment and the right mind-set, you can train your brain to think more efficiently and creatively during brainstorming sessions.

Builds camaraderie

Group brainstorming can help you build stronger relationships with your team as you work together to come up with unique and creative solutions to problems.

How Lifesize brainstorms with the entire team

Lifesize uses several collaborative tools during team meetings  to brainstorm in the most productive and intuitive way. With the Kaptivo integration with Lifesize Share™, you can whiteboard and collaborate in real time with your colleagues during your meeting.  Wirelessly share your screen and capture all your diagrams and storyboards live, with Lifesize.

brainstorming session to identify problem solving methods and techniques

Make brainstorming sessions more efficient

Brainstorming sessions aren’t always pretty — in fact, brainstorming sessions are where you and your team should be the messiest. No idea is a bad idea, and no question is a dumb question. So don’t hesitate to dive right in to your brainstorm — because once you get your head in the game, you’ll find your workflow and improve it every day. These brainstorming methods will help you make the first step fun, fast and flexible.

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brainstorming session to identify problem solving methods and techniques

Brainstorming Examples and Techniques

Ideas are not mechanically manufactured. They are emotionally inspired. When a group of people works towards devising a pragmatic solution with collaborative efforts, it is essential to contemplate the multivariate ideas and multi-layered theories that brew in the mind of each member. There should be one place or platform to express and accept the concepts as potential, no matter how unrealistic or scattered it may be. That's why we need brainstorming Sessions.

However, the ultimate goal of brainstorming is to achieve a standpoint. Putting forward many ideas and accumulating various possibilities is only half of the picture. One needs to find a way-out or a prototype of implementation. Therefore, brainstorming needs a set of ground rules and techniques to function semantically. This article explores diverse objectives, methods, and tools that help achieve fruitful outcomes, every time and features various brainstorming examples to inspire you.

How Can Mind Maps Help Students?

Mind Maps are graphical representations of ideas, and it is the perfect tool to visualize inputs from a brainstorming session. Since students widely engage in brainstorming with classmates, teachers, friends, and advisors in various walks of life, mind map diagramming can be a healthy habit to jot down the methods and timelines, making it easy to follow and conduct better lifestyle management. Whether it is about setting goals for study groups, considering career choices, preparing for a job interview, planning an event like a house party, date, or college play, or simply pursuing a hobby in spite of all that jazz, it's always good to have a chart of things that exhibits a visual semblance of balance.

Such a habit also helps students have a confident stance to consider creative thoughts with freedom of expression, and also hone their analytical skills, which only helps them in the future, no matter what career they choose.

Draw A Mind Map

Brainstorming Techniques

The foremost criterion of brainstorming is extracting both ideas and thoughts processes to manifest a complete course of action. The situations, deliverables, concepts, and objectives of brainstorming are dynamic and need unique approaches to get the creative juices flowing. Take a cue from the below brainstorming examples to nudge ideas.

Mind Map Computer Science Project

A mind map is an image that contains any sort of graphical element to express an idea. It may include to-do lists, thought clouds, doodles, notes, blueprints, key points, information, and anything else that helps bring clarity to an objective. The primitive technique to create mind maps is to take a piece of paper, and some markers, and jot down the idea. Use one-worded labels first to write down the Main Topic and then work your way into labeling the relative layers of challenges, resources, considerations, etc. as subtopics. Take a cue from this Mind Map created by a student to streamline the project.

SWOT Analysis

This is more of an objective than a method. It works with the categorical analysis of the four pillars of success:

By following this simple process, and having genuine inputs to each figure, one can overcome the weaknesses and threats and optimize their strengths and opportunities. Here's how Starbucks would like to picture their SWOT analysis with light-hearted content.

Role Storming

Role Storming is a practical approach to considering what someone else might do in a similar situation. It is recommended that you engage role storming sessions with someone you trust, with a bit of favorable judgment. Such consulting teachers or educational advisors will take note of their accounts in a single Mind Map, or make career choices.

Step Ladder Brainstorming

Step Ladder Brainstorming is a modern concept to exercise teams and classes that are not adequately communicative or expressive. The drill follows the course of defining a problem or challenge to a group and then directing all but two members to leave the room. First, the two members are asked to share their ideas; then, a third member is called back in the place to share his/her input exclusively. This process is repeated with the rest of the members entering the room, one by one, and filling the room back up. Through this technique, every member can participate in the brainstorming, exclusively as well as collaboratively with a little help from a teacher, trainer or manager

Design Charratte

Charrette is a brainstorming technique that is much similar to workshops. It typically involves dedicated collaboration by a group or several groups working collectively towards a project, a cause, or a study program. Charrettes follow a target-oriented course, that has to be accomplished within the allotted time. This kind of brainstorming is typically endorsed for creative endeavors.

4 Brainstorming Examples

Below are 4 brainstorming templates and you can look at them. 

Brainstorming for Writing

Never let writer's block take away your valuable time. Consider brainstorming as part of the process. See this template as a relatable brainstorming example for writing that undertakes a fun doodle, and transforms it into a functional Mind Map for the professional writing process.

Brainstorming for Business

Just because you are qualified to run a business, doesn't mean that you are fully aware of your business needs. Student startups, for example, face unique situations that they might not have even heard of in the classroom. Young entrepreneurs need to endorse learning processes that are in sync with their existing knowledge. This Mind Map about Financial Statements is a good instance, which simplifies the complicated terms and their position in Financial Statements.

Brainstorming for Students

Usually, after a student brainstorming session on group study, the page, whiteboard or blackboard used to scribble ideas, looks like a warzone, that hardly makes sense anymore. A simplified version like this template can be a boon for the masses.

Brainstorming in Healthcare

Medical Practitioners and Healthcare organizations heavily use charts, infographics, brainstorm, and mind mapping diagrams to convey essential information and guidelines for awareness or exchanging creative concepts. This template about Vitamin Deficiency Diseases can be easy to project for general people than an NCBI report, isn't it!

How to Brainstorm With EdrawMind?

EdrawMind Screenshot

If you avidly conduct or participate in brainstorming for problem-solving or giving rise to creative ideas, then you can follow the simple techniques to make it worthwhile. Using diagramming tools is a better and more constructive method to map out confusion or conclusions without creating a mess of draft papers.

EdrawMind is a mind mapping software designed by Edraw. It's a safe and highly functional tool to graphically visualize the various issues, challenges, cognitive thoughts, and findings extracted from a brainstorming session and put them down in crisp, high-quality data conveying brilliant ideas brilliantly. Creating Branstrom Diagrams is very simple with EdrawMind . You may either download the software or use our browser-based interface.

You can just go by the following steps:

Enjoy creating fun and functional brainstorms with your peers.

Related Articles


Brainstorming is a strategy used to generate a number of ideas to help solve a particular problem. The technique has been around for over 70 years and is still used today to engage students in solving a range of problems.

Techniques vary but there is a general structure to follow when developing brainstorming sessions. After the problem or issue is presented, students are organized into groups to brainstorm all possible ideas which could solve the problem. Discussion of these ideas takes place after the brainstorming session ends, usually after a defined period of time. Each idea will be discussed and considered, some ideas will be eliminated, and a final list will be ranked for possible use as a solution toward solving the problem.

Brainstorming is a cooperative approach in which a number of people collectively agree upon a solution after all of their ideas are brought forth and discussed.

It is important to plan the brainstorming session before implementing it in the classroom. As outlined below, you will need to consider the strengths, challenges and barriers when designing the session.

Planning a Brainstorming Session

1. state the problem or issue..

2. Identify the roles of all students in the group.

Provide students with the problem/topic that is new to them and one that challenges their current level of knowledge on the issue.

3. Explain the guidelines of the brainstorming session (the DOs and DON’Ts).

Stress that all ideas are welcome and even ideas which are perceived as “out there,” “funny or silly,” or “weird” can lead to creative solutions.

4. Keep the group number group manageable (8-12 people works well).

5. Create a relaxed environment which is supplied with adequate workspace and materials and free from distractions.

Ideally, more people in a group can lead to more ideas being generated.

6. Create heterogenic groups.

Groups should consist of students who vary in experiences, backgrounds, knowledge and academic disciplines.

7. Rank the generated ideas and suggestions.

8. Review the brainstorming session.

It is important to provide some form of follow-up to the brainstorming session as a sort of follow-through to support student effort.

Strengths of Brainstorming

Challenges of Brainstorming

Brainstorming sessions can be a useful strategy to encourage genuine collaboration and interaction in the classroom. Putting together a well-stated problem and careful planning strategies can lead to meaningful idea generation and idea building which can be used in solving problems or addressing specific course-related issues.

Baumgartner, J. (2005). Key factors to successful brainstorming. http://www.jpb.com/creative/keyfactors.php

Elkenberry, K. (2007). Brainstorming strategies: Seven questions that spur better solutions. http://www.sideroad.com/Meetings/brainstorming-strategies.html

Selected Resources

Baumgartner, J. (n.d.). The complete guide to managing traditional brainstorming events. http://www.jpb.com/creative/brainstorming.pdf

Maricopa Community Colleges (2001). Brainstorming. http://www.mcli.dist.maricopa.edu/authoring/studio/guidebook/brain.html 

Storm, J. (2004). 10 deadly brainstorming ruts that kill innovation. https://www.brainstormnetwork.org/articles/10-BrainStorming-Ruts.pdf

Creative Commons License

Suggested citation

Northern Illinois University Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. (2012). Brainstorming. In Instructional guide for university faculty and teaching assistants. Retrieved from https://www.niu.edu/citl/resources/guides/instructional-guide

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brainstorming session to identify problem solving methods and techniques

36 Problem-solving techniques, methods and tools

When it comes to solving problems, getting ideas is the easy part. 

But businesses often forget the other four stages of the problem-solving process that will allow them to find the best solution.

Instead of jumping straight to idea generation, your problem-solving framework should look like this:

See how idea generation doesn’t appear until stage 3?!

In this extensive resource, we provide techniques, methodologies and tools to guide you through every stage of the problem-solving process.

Once you’ve finished reading, you’ll possess an extensive problem-solving arsenal that will enable you to overcome your biggest workplace challenges.

11 Problem-solving techniques for clarity and confidence

Before we dive into more comprehensive methodologies for solving problems, there are a few basic techniques you should know. 

The following techniques will set you up for a successful problem-solving session with your team, allowing you to take on your biggest challenges with clarity and confidence. ‍

1. Take a moment, take a breath

When a problem or challenge arises, it’s normal to act too quickly or rely on solutions that have worked well in the past. This is known as entrenched thinking.

But acting impulsively, without prior consideration or planning, can cause you to misunderstand the issue and overlook possible solutions to the problem.

Therefore, the first thing you should always do when you encounter a problem is: breathe in and out.

Take a step back and make a clear plan of action before you act. This will help you to take rational steps towards solving a problem. ‍

2. Ask questions to understand the full extent of the issue

Another common mistake people make when attempting to solve a problem is taking action before fully understanding the problem.

Before committing to a theory, ask enough questions to unearth the true root of the issue. 

Later in this article, we cover The 5 Why’s problem-solving methodology which you can use to easily identify the root of your problem. Give this a go at your next meeting and see how your initial understanding of a problem can often be wrong. ‍

3. Consider alternative perspectives

A common problem-solving issue is that of myopia—a narrow-minded view or perception of the problem. Myopia can occur when you’re too involved with the problem or your team isn’t diverse enough.

To give yourself the best chance of resolving a problem, gain insight from a wide range of sources. Collaborate with key stakeholders, customers and on-the-ground employees to learn how the problem affects them and whether they have found workarounds or solutions.

To paint the broadest picture, don’t limit your problem-solving team to a specific archetype. Try to include everyone, from the chief executive to the office janitor.

If you’re working with a small team, try the Flip It! problem-solving methodology to view the issue from a fresh angle. ‍

4. Make your office space conducive to problem-solving

The environment in which your host your brainstorming sessions should maximise creativity . When your team members trust each other and feel relaxed, they’re more likely to come up with innovative ideas and solutions to a problem.

Here are a few ways to get your employees’ creative juices flowing:

World Café is a problem-solving method that creates a casual environment conducive to creative thinking. 

Keep reading to learn more about how World Café can help your team solve complex organisational problems. ‍

5. Use problem-solving methodologies to guide the process

Because problem-solving is a creative process, it can be hard to keep it on track. As more ideas get banded around, conflicts can arise that derail the session.

That’s why problem-solving methodologies are so helpful. They offer you proven problem-solving frameworks to guide your group sessions and keep them on track.

The Six Thinking Hats problem-solving method is a popular technique that guides the process and helps your team analyse a problem from all angles.

We’re going to take a look at our favourite problem-solving methodologies in the next section of this article, XY Tried and tested problem-solving methodologies. ‍

6. Use analogies to solve complex problems

Sometimes, solving a different problem can help you uncover solutions to another problem! 

By stripping back a complex issue and framing it as a simplified analogy , you approach a problem from a different angle, enabling you to come up with alternative ideas.

After solving practice problems, your team might be more aptly equipped to solve real-world issues.

However, coming up with an analogy that reflects your issue can be difficult, so don’t worry if this technique doesn’t work for you.

The Speed Boat diagram is a visual tool that helps your employees view existing challenges as anchors holding back a boat which represents your end goals. By assigning a “weight” to each anchor, your team can prioritise which issues to tackle first. ‍

7. Establish clear constraints

Constraints make a big problem more approachable. 

Before you tackle a problem, establish clear boundaries and codes of conduct for the session. This allows your team to focus on the current issue without becoming distracted or veering off on a tangent.

In an article published in the Harvard Business Review, authors Oguz A. Acar, Murat Tarakci, and Daan van Knippenberg wrote, “Constraints … provide focus and a creative challenge that motivates people to search for and connect information from different sources to generate novel ideas for new products, services, or business processes.” (Why Constraints Are Good for Innovation, 2019)

Lightning Decision Jam is a prime example of how constraints can assist the creative process. Here, your team are given strict time constraints and isn’t permitted to discuss ideas until the end. ‍

8. Dislodge preconceived ideas

Humans are creatures of habit. 

We defer to strategies that have produced positive results in the past. This is typically beneficial because recalling our previous successes means we don’t need to constantly re-learn similar tasks.

But when it comes to problem-solving, this way of thinking can trip us up. We become fixated on a solution that worked in the past, but when this fails we’re dismayed and left wondering what to do next.

To resolve problems effectively, your employees need to escape the precincts of their imaginations. This helps to eliminate functional fixedness—the belief that an item serves only its predefined function.

Alternative Application is an icebreaker game that encourages employees to think outside the box by coming up with different uses for everyday objects. Try this at your next meeting or team-building event and watch your team tap into their creativity. ‍

9. Level the playing field

Having a diverse group of employees at your brainstorming sessions is a good idea, but there’s one problem: the extroverted members of your team will be more vocal than the introverts.

To ensure you’re gaining insight from every member of your team, you need to give your quieter employees equal opportunities to contribute by eliminating personality biases.

Read more: What icebreaker games and questions work best for introverts?

The obvious solution, then, is to “silence” the louder participants (it’s not as sinister as it sounds, promise)—all you have to do is ban your team from debating suggestions during the ideation process. 

The Lightning Decision Jam methodology gives your employees equal opportunities to contribute because much of the problem-solving process is carried out in silence. ‍

10. Take a break from the problem

Have you ever noticed how the best ideas seem to come when you’re not actively working on a problem? You may have spent hours slumped over your desk hashing out a solution, only for the “eureka!” moment to come when you’re walking your dog or taking a shower.

In James Webb Young’s book, A Technique for Producing Ideas , phase three of the process is “stepping away from the problem.” Young proclaims that after putting in the hard work, the information needs to ferment in the mind before any plausible ideas come to you.

So next time you’re in a meeting with your team trying to solve a problem, don’t panic if you don’t uncover groundbreaking ideas there and then. Allow everybody to mull over what they’ve learned, then reconvene at a later date.

The Creativity Dice methodology is a quick-fire brainstorming game that allows your team to incubate ideas while concentrating on another. ‍

11. Limit feedback sessions

The way your team delivers feedback at the end of a successful brainstorming session is critical. Left unsupervised, excessive feedback can undo all of your hard work.

Therefore, it’s wise to put a cap on the amount of feedback your team can provide. One great way of doing this is by using the One Breath Feedback technique.

By limiting your employees to one breath, they’re taught to be concise with their final comments. 

16 Tried and tested problem-solving methodologies

Problem-solving methodologies keep your brainstorming session on track and encourage your team to consider all angles of the issue.

Countless methods have wiggled their way into the world of business, each one with a unique strategy and end goal.

Here are 12 of our favourite problem-solving methodologies that will help you find the best-fit solution to your troubles. ‍

12. Six Thinking Hats

Six Thinking Hats is a methodical problem-solving framework that helps your group consider all possible problems, causes, solutions and repercussions by assigning a different coloured hat to each stage of the problem-solving process.

The roles of each hat are as follows:

For Six Thinking Hats to work effectively, ensure your team acts within the confines of each role. 

While wearing The Yellow Hat, for example, your team should only discuss the positives . Any negative implications should be left for the Black or Grey hat.

Note: Feel free to alter the hat colours to align with your cultural context. ‍

13. Lightning Decision Jam (LDJ)

Lightning Decision Jam is a nine-stage problem-solving process designed to uncover a variety of perspectives while keeping the session on track.

The process starts by defining a general topic like the internal design process, interdepartmental communication, the sales funnel, etc.

Then, armed with pens and post-it notes, your team will work through the nine stages in the following order:

The philosophy behind LDJ is that of constraint. By limiting discussion, employees can focus on compiling ideas and coming to democratic decisions that benefit the company without being distracted or going off on a tangent. ‍

14. The 5 Why’s

Root Cause Analysis (RCA) is the process of unearthing a problem and finding the underlying cause. To help you through this process, you can use The 5 Why’s methodology.

The idea is to ask why you’re experiencing a problem, reframe the problem based on the answer, and then ask “ why?” again. If you do this five times , you should come pretty close to the root of your original challenge.

While this might not be a comprehensive end-to-end methodology, it certainly helps you to pin down your core challenges. ‍

15. World Café

If you’ve had enough of uninspiring corporate boardrooms, World Café is the solution. 

This problem-solving strategy facilitates casual conversations around given topics, enabling players to speak more openly about their grievances without the pressure of a large group.

Here’s how to do it:

World Café is a useful way of uncovering hidden causes and pitfalls by having multiple simultaneous conversations about a given topic. ‍

16. Discovery and Action Dialogue (DAD)

Discovery and Actions Dialogues are a collaborative method for employees to share and adopt personal behaviours in response to a problem. 

This crowdsourcing approach provides insight into how a problem affects individuals throughout your company and whether some are better equipped than others.

A DAD session is guided by a facilitator who asks seven open-ended questions in succession. Each person is given equal time to participate while a recorder takes down notes and valuable insights. 

This is a particularly effective method for uncovering preexisting ideas, behaviours and solutions from the people who face problems daily. ‍

17. Design Sprint 2.0

The Design Sprint 2.0 model by Jake Knapp helps your team to focus on finding, developing measuring a solution within four days . Because theorising is all well and good, but sometimes you can learn more by getting an idea off the ground and observing how it plays out in the real world.

Here’s the basic problem-solving framework:

This technique is great for testing the viability of new products or expanding and fixing the features of an existing product. ‍

18. Open Space Technology

Open Space Technology is a method for large groups to create a problem-solving agenda around a central theme. It works best when your group is comprised of subject-matter experts and experienced individuals with a sufficient stake in the problem.

Open Space Technology works like this:

This methodology grants autonomy to your team and encourages them to take ownership of the problem-solving process. ‍

19. Round-Robin Brainstorming Technique

While not an end-to-end problem-solving methodology, the Round-Robin Brainstorming Technique is an effective way of squeezing every last ounce of creativity from your ideation sessions.

Here’s how it works:

Once you’ve compiled a long list of ideas, it’s up to you how you move forward. You could, for example, borrow techniques from other methodologies, such as the “vote on solutions” phase of the Lightning Decision Jam. ‍

20. Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA)

Failure Modes and Effects Analysis is a method for preventing and mitigating problems within your business processes.

This technique starts by examining the process in question and asking, “What could go wrong?” From here, your team starts to brainstorm a list of potential failures.

Then, going through the list one by one, ask your participants, “Why would this failure happen?” 

Once you’ve answered this question for each list item, ask yourselves, “What would the consequences be of this failure?”

This proactive method focuses on prevention rather than treatment. Instead of waiting for a problem to occur and reacting, you’re actively searching for future shortcomings. ‍

21. Flip It!

The Flip It! Methodology teaches your team to view their concerns in a different light and frame them instead as catalysts for positive change.

The game works like this:

This brainstorming approach teaches your employees the danger of engrained thinking and helps them to reframe their fears as opportunities. ‍

22. The Creativity Dice

The Creativity Dice teaches your team to incubate ideas as they focus on different aspects of a problem. As we mentioned earlier in the article, giving ideas time to mature can be a highly effective problem-solving strategy. Here’s how the game works:

Choose a topic to focus on, It can be as specific or open-ended as you like. Write this down as a word or sentence. Roll the die, start a timer of three minutes and start writing down ideas within the confines of what that number resembles. The roles of each number are as follows:

Once you’ve finished the activity, review your findings and decide what you want to take with you. ‍

23. SWOT Analysis

The SWOT Analysis is a long-standing method for analysing the current state of your business and considering how this affects the desired end state.

The basic idea is this:

The SWOT Analysis is an intuitive method for understanding which parts of your business could be affecting your long-term goals. ‍

24. The Journalistic Six

When learning to cover every aspect of a story, journalists are taught to ask themselves six essential questions:  

Now, this approach has been adopted by organisations to help understand every angle of a problem. All you need is a clear focus question, then you can start working through the six questions with your team until you have a 360-degree view of what has, can and needs to be done. ‍

25. Gamestorming

Gamestorming is a one-stop creative-thinking framework that uses various games to help your team come up with innovative ideas.

Originally published as a book 10 years ago, Gamestorming contained a selection of creative games used by Silicon Valley’s top-performing businesses to develop groundbreaking products and services.

This collection of resources, plucked from the minds of founders and CEOs like Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs, allows you to tap into the potentially genius ideas lying dormant in the minds of your employees. ‍

26. Four-Step Sketch

The Four-Step Sketch is a visual brainstorming that provides an alternative to traditional discussion-based ideation techniques.

This methodology requires prior discussion to clarify the purpose of the activity. Imagine you’re on a startup retreat , for example, and your team is taking part in a design sprint or hackathon.

Once you’ve brainstormed a list of ideas with your team, participants can look at the suggestions and take down any relevant notes. They then take these notes and turn them into rough sketches that resemble the idea.

Then, as a warm-up, give each participant eight minutes to produce eight alternative sketches (eight minutes per sketch) of the idea. These ideas are not to be shared with the group.

Finally, participants create new sketches based on their favourite ideas and share them with the group. The group can then vote on the ideas they think offer the best solution. ‍

27. 15% Solutions

15% Solutions is a problem-solving strategy for motivating and inspiring your employees. By encouraging your team to gain small victories, you pave the way for bigger changes.

First, ask your participants to think about things they can personally do within the confines of their role.

Then, arrange your team into small groups of three to four and give them time to share their ideas and consult with each other.

This simple problem-solving process removes negativity and powerlessness and teaches your team to take responsibility for change. 

9 Problem-solving tools for gathering and selecting ideas

Problem-solving tools support your meeting with easy-to-use graphs, visualisations and techniques.  

By implementing a problem-solving tool, you break the cycle of mundane verbal discussion, enabling you to maintain engagement throughout the session. ‍

28. Fishbone Diagram

The Fishbone Diagram (otherwise known as the Ishikawa Diagram or Cause and Effect Diagram), is a tool for identifying the leading causes of a problem. You can then consolidate these causes into a comprehensive “Problem Statement.”

The term “Fishbone Diagram” is derived from the diagram’s structure. The problem itself forms the tail, possible causes radiate from the sides to form the fish skeleton while the final “Problem Statement” appears as the “head” of the fish.

Example: A fast-food chain is investigating the declining quality of their food. As the team brainstorms potential causes, they come up with reasons like “poorly trained personnel”, “lack of quality control”, and “incorrect quantity of spices.” Together with other causes, the group summarises that these problems lead to “bad burgers.” They write this as the Problem Statement and set about eliminating the main contributing factors. ‍

29. The Problem Tree

A Problem Tree is a useful tool for assessing the importance or relevance of challenges concerning the core topic. If you’re launching a new product, for example, gather your team and brainstorm the current issues, roadblocks and bottlenecks that are hindering the process.

Then, work together to decide which of these are most pressing. Place the most relevant issues closer to the core topic and less relevant issues farther away. ‍

30. SQUID Diagram

The Squid Diagram is an easy-to-use tool that charts the progress of ideas and business developments as they unfold. Your SQUID Diagram can remain on a wall for your team to add to over time.

31. The Speed Boat

The Speed Boat Diagram is a visual metaphor used to help your team identify and solve problems in the way of your goals.

Here’s how it works: 

This is an easy-to-use tool that sparks creative solutions. If you like, your team can assign a “weight” to each anchor which determines the impact each problem has on the end goal. ‍

32. The LEGO Challenge

LEGO is an excellent creative-thinking and problem-solving tool used regularly by event facilitators to help teams overcome challenges. 

In our article 5 and 10-minute Team-Building Activities , we introduce Sneak a Peek —a collaborative team-building game that develops communication and leadership skills. ‍

33. The Three W’s: What? So What? Now What?

Teams aren’t always aligned when it comes to their understanding of a problem. While the problem remains the same for everyone, they might have differing opinions as to how it occurred at the implications it had.

Asking “ What? So What? Now What?” Helps you to understand different perspectives around a problem.

It goes like this:

This approach helps your team understand how problems affect individuals in different ways and uncovers a variety of ways to overcome them. ‍

34. Now-How-Wow Matrix

Gathering ideas is easy—but selecting the best ones? That’s a different story. 

If you’ve got a bunch of ideas, try the Now-How-Wow Matrix to help you identify which ones you should implement now and which ones should wait until later.

Simply draw a two-axis graph with “implementation difficulty” on the Y axis and “idea originality” on the X axis. Divide this graph into quadrants and write “Now!” in the bottom left panel, “Wow!” in the bottom right panel, and “How?” in the top right panel. You can leave the top left panel blank.

Then, take your ideas and plot them on the graph depending on their implementation difficulty and level of originality.

By the end, you’ll have a clearer picture of which ideas to ignore, which ones to implement now, and which ones to add to the pipeline for the future. ‍

35. Impact-Effort Matrix

The Impact-Effort Matrix is a variation of the Now-How-Wow Matrix where the Y axis is marked “Impact” and the X axis is marked “Effort.”

Then, divide the graph into quadrants and plot your ideas. 

The Impact-Effort Matrix is a simple way for your team to weigh the benefits of an idea against the amount of investment required. ‍

36. Dot Voting

Once you’ve gathered a substantial list of ideas from your employees, you need to sort the good from the bad. 

Dot voting is a simple tool used by problem-solving facilitators as a fast and effective way for large groups to vote on their favourite ideas . You’ll have seen this method used in problem-solving methods like Flip It! and Lightning Decision Jam .

This provides an easy-to-use visual representation of the best and worst ideas put forward by your team.

Give your problems the attention they deserve at an offsite retreat

While working from home or at the office, your team is often too caught up in daily tasks to take on complex problems. 

By escaping the office and uniting at an offsite location, you can craft a purposeful agenda of team-building activities and problem-solving sessions. This special time away from the office can prove invaluable when it comes to keeping your business on track.

If you have problems that need fixing (who doesn’t?), reach out to Surf Office and let us put together a fully-customised offsite retreat for you.

budget retreat spreadsheet

Retreat Budget Spreadsheet

Are you organising a company retreat and want to make sure you have all the costs under the control? Get a copy of our free Budget Calculator spreadsheet.

Interviews with more “newly-remote” companies:

From the office to remote: real.digital chooses quality over the location.

From the office to remote: Real.Digital chooses quality over the location

Around mid-August of this year Real.Digital announced that they will be operating as a remote first company from now on.They might not be affected by the COVID-19 in economic terms, but the decision to shift their work practices was still a significant one. Fortunately, they’re viewing it as a great opportunity to open up their talent pool to people from all over the world!

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How digital product studio Pixelmatters transformed from office to remote

How digital product studio Pixelmatters transformed from office to remote

By now, you’ve probably heard the news that large companies like Twitter, Shopify and Slack are “going remote”. And recently, we’re hearing more and more stories about smaller companies, startups, and digital agencies doing the same. What were their motivations? What challenges do they face during this transition? How do they see their future? We…

CPJ’s journey into remote work

CPJ’s journey into remote work

During these times, many companies are switching to remote work. You may have heard that large companies, like Twitter, Shopify, and Slack are doing so, but we’re also seeing this shift with smaller companies, startups, and digital agencies as well. Perhaps this transition was already in the pipeline, or maybe COVID-19 was the catalyst. Either…

WeTransfer switching to partial remote working

WeTransfer switching to partial remote working

“We are not working from home. We are at home trying to make it work.” For most companies around the world trying to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, this quote probably feels pretty relatable as everyone adjusts to the sudden shift to working from home. Shared by Gwen Burbidge, the Head of HR at WeTransfer, these…

brainstorming session to identify problem solving methods and techniques


How to plan your first company retreat.

With knowledge collected from:

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120 Best Get to know you questions for the workplace

120 Best Get to know you questions for the workplace

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Between Sessions

Using Problem-Solving Techniques in Therapy

by Dr. Lawrence Shapiro | Jan 25, 2023 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

brainstorming session to identify problem solving methods and techniques

I’ve read dozens of books about CBT techniques, but I rarely see a mention of problem-solving techniques. You could argue that therapy, counseling, or coaching is itself a problem-solving process, but I believe teaching specific problem-solving techniques can be beneficial for many of our clients because it stimulates executive functioning and can lead to a higher degree of self-efficacy.

Many therapists with a neuroscience bent (including me) see problems like anxiety and depression as a battle between the emotional part of the brain (limbic system) and the thinking part of the brain (the neocortex). it’s not really a fair fight. the emotional part of the brain responds to thoughts or external events 10 times faster than the thinking part of the brain, and as i’m sure you’ve seen time and time again, emotions can hijack the thinking part of the brain, muting the rational thought and decision-making ability of our clients. teaching clients problem-solving techniques may stimulate executive functioning in the following ways:, problem-solving techniques normalize a situation, making it seem less overwhelming., problem-solving techniques offer new ways of thinking., practicing problem-solving techniques may reduce impulsive tendencies., practicing problem-solving techniques may help clients with positive decision-making., problem-solving techniques may lead to more solution-focused thinking., here are a few problem-solving techniques that can be used with clients., brainstorming is an active process that involves generating many ideas or solutions to a problem in a short amount of time. clients are presented with many open-ended questions and are asked to consider alternatives and possibilities as they expand outside their comfort zone. it can be done individually, in groups, aloud, on paper, and within a counseling session. the idea is to generate diverse perspectives about a given topic while being open, creative, and flexible. you may suggest clients brainstorm during journal writing, doodling, drawing, or while walking. these types of activities help stimulate right brain functions such as divergent thinking and creativity., mind-mapping is a visual representation of ideas and concepts related to a problem. it helps clients see the connections between different ideas to organize their thoughts, allowing them to work more efficiently with both sides of their brain. with this technique, words and illustrations complement and combine on a mind map. clients put everything on a blank canvas: problems, resources, beliefs, values, and so on. by exploring the relationships among them, the solution may quickly emerge. mind-mapping allows clients to fully discover their potential, understand solutions, and overcome obstacles in a creative way. you may suggest online sites like mindgenius.com, mindmeister.com, or mural.co., swot analysis is a technique used to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of a situation. this tool enables a client to appraise the positive and negative attributes regarding a particular goal or problem and how external factors impact them. the client is guided to make rational choices based on this analysis. download the free between sessions swot worksheet at the end of the blog , decision matrix is a tool used to evaluate and compare different options or solutions, allowing individuals to choose the best option based on a set of criteria. the client lists two or more alternatives they are considering along with the pros and cons of each. listing all the advantages and disadvantages of each alternative ensures they will not overlook relevant information. next, they assign importance ratings to each pro and con factor. after listing the pros and cons of each alternative and assigning importance ratings, it is helpful to analyze this information. this can lead to observations and insights that allow the client to become clearer about the correct course of action., root cause analysis (rca) is a method of identifying the underlying causes of a problem. by identifying the root cause, clients can develop a solution that addresses the problem at its source. rca goes beyond simple cause and effect to identify and isolate concerns and failure points.  there are five steps in an rca:, define the problem. analyze what is happening and identify the precise symptoms to form a problem statement., gather data. before identifying the underlying problems, collect and evaluate all aspects of the situation., identify causal factors. look for as many causal factors as possible that could have led to the problem., determine the root cause(s). discover the root causes of each causal factor., recommend and implement solutions. recommend solutions and preventive actions to ensure the problem does not happen again. develop a timeline and plan for implementing the solution., the six hats method identifies different perspectives and emotions, allowing clients to focus on the task at hand. the six hats method, developed by dr. edward de bono, separates thinking into six different “hats” or modes of thinking. this helps clients approach problem-solving in a more organized, focused, and efficient way. the six hats are:, white hat – represents objective thinking and the gathering of information, facts, and data related to the problem., red hat – represents emotions and intuition., black hat – represents critical thinking and the identification of potential problems, potential flaws, and risks., yellow hat – represents positive thinking and the identification of different options and potential solutions., green hat – represents creative thinking and the generation of new ideas and unconventional solutions to the problem., blue hat – represents the overall thinking process and the management of the problem-solving process, goals, and objectives, and coordinates the use of the other hats., when using this technique, individuals or groups are encouraged to act as if they are wearing each hat, and to focus on the thinking associated with that hat. this can help clients consider different perspectives, generate new ideas, and make more informed choices, the scamper technique encourages people to use their imagination and creativity to generate new ideas. it stands for:, substitute – can we change this, combine – what can we combine, adjust – how can we make adjustment, modify – can we modify it, put to other uses – can it be used for something else, eliminate – is there a reason we should eliminate it, reverse – can we change the order, betweensessions.com offers many worksheets to aid your clients in learning problem-solving included with your library of over 2,500 tools. we also offer a room in our virtual counseling rooms software where clients can learn and practice problem-solving techniques., click here for free worksheets on the swot analysis and the scamper technique..


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  1. 35 problem-solving techniques and methods for solving complex problems

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  1. 30 Effective Brainstorming Techniques for Teams To Try

    Brainstorming is an effective process for thinking of potential solutions and considering new ideas. There are different techniques you may use that involve activities like drawing, writing or talking with others to develop your ideas. Learning more about these different techniques may ensure you choose the right method for your situation,

  2. 35 problem-solving techniques and methods for solving ...

    Six Thinking Hats is a classic method for identifying the problems that need to be solved and enables your team to consider them from different angles, whether that is by focusing on facts and data, creative solutions, or by considering why a particular solution might not work.

  3. A Problem Solving Method: Brainstorming

    The main steps in brainstorming when problem solving include: 1. Understanding the problem 2. Gathering information about the problem 3. Generating ideas about the problem 4. Evaluating and selecting ideas 5. Implementing the best idea 6. Reviewing the results of the brainstorming session

  4. Brainstorming: Definition, Examples, and Techniques for Great Decision

    Brainstorming is a very important decision making skill, because it's so effective at generating ideas to solve your problem. Brainstorming is effective at generating ideas for two reasons: It generates a large quantity of ideas. It generates a large variety of ideas addressing different aspects of the problem.

  5. 5 Effective Team Brainstorming Techniques

    Analytical brainstorming techniques 1. Customer journey mapping You can do this: With a team What you'll need: Whiteboard Markers Sticky notes Timer How it works: This technique helps you visualize how customers experience your product or service, as well as how they feel along the way. What does this have to do with brainstorming?

  6. 10 effective brainstorming techniques for teams

    10 effective team brainstorming techniques Brainstorms typically have three steps: idea capture, discussion and critique, and selection. The following strategies will help you and your team, whether you're in person or remote, through all three stages. 1. Brainwriting

  7. 29 Brainstorming Techniques for Creativity [2023] • Asana

    Here's a general brainstorming definition: it's an approach taken by an individual or team to solve a problem or generate new ideas for the improvement of a product, organization, or strategy. No matter your preferred method, most brainstorming techniques involve three steps: Capture ideas Discuss and critique the ideas

  8. 6 Steps Your Team Can Take for an Effective Brainstorming Process

    Brainstorming sessions use various techniques and exercises to generate ideas. One effective method is to start by having participants take time as individuals to brainstorm ideas. This step can be as simple as having everyone write a list of ideas on a piece of paper.

  9. How To Do Brainstorming For Problem Solving

    There are a series of steps that should be followed in order to make the best use of the brainstorming session. 1.?????Assembling of a group of members who want to participate 2.?????Presenting a problem or an issue to members. 3.?????Encouraging them to propose a solution without cutting them out 4.?????Consolidating all the proposals/solutions.

  10. The 6 problems with brainstorming and how to overcome them

    Reverse brainstorming employs our ability to see problems more easily than solutions. It's a clever brainstorming approach that leans into our natural tendency to criticize and see flaws in a plan. So by starting with the problems, the team can then move onto making a plan for ongoing success.

  11. Effective Brainstorming Techniques

    How To Conduct A Reverse Brainstorming Session Identify The Problem; Reverse The Problem; Gather Ideas; Reverse The Gathered Ideas; Evaluate Ideas And Identify Solutions; 5 Whys Analysis How To Use This Technique? Five Whys - An Example; Implementing The 5 Whys Method In Practice 1. Assemble A Team; 2. Identify The Problem. 3. Ask Why; 4 ...

  12. Brainstorming

    Brainstorming is a popular idea invention and problem solving technique. Brainstorming is a method that is used by leaders and managers when they need to deal with complex problems. Brainstorming helps when there is need to manifest the next steps in difficult situations. According you Wiki, Brainstorming is a group or individual creativity ...

  13. 19 Top Brainstorming Techniques to Generate Ideas for Every Situation

    You can provide that help up front by setting up the brainstorming process to include everyone in a structured, supportive manner. A few techniques for this type of brainstorming include Step Ladder Brainstorming, Round Robin Brainstorming, Rapid Ideation, and Trigger Storming.

  14. Brainstorming technique for innovation, creativity and problem solving

    Brainstorming is a technique often used by groups, but can be done alone (although this is not as effective) to generate a large number of ideas for the solution of a problem. The technique was first documented in the late 1930s by Alex F Osborn in his book called Applied Imagination.

  15. What is brainstorming? Techniques and methods

    Brainstorming sessions are meant to be free of judgment. Everyone involved is meant to feel safe and confident enough to speak their minds. There will be some good and some bad ideas, but this doesn't matter as long as the final outcome is one that can solve the problem.

  16. 10 Brainstorming Techniques for Effective Meetings

    Brainstorming helps teams and individuals think outside of the box to solve a problem, see issues from all angles, stimulate creative thinking and develop new ideas. Popular brainstorming techniques include: Brain-netting Charrette Figure storming Gap filling Mind mapping Round Robin Starbursting Stepladder Storyboarding SWOT

  17. Brainstorming Examples and Techniques

    The situations, deliverables, concepts, and objectives of brainstorming are dynamic and need unique approaches to get the creative juices flowing. Take a cue from the below brainstorming examples to nudge ideas. 1. Mind Mapping. A mind map is an image that contains any sort of graphical element to express an idea.

  18. Brainstorming

    Brainstorming is a strategy used to generate a number of ideas to help solve a particular problem. The technique has been around for over 70 years and is still used today to engage students in solving a range of problems. Techniques vary but there is a general structure to follow when developing brainstorming sessions.

  19. 36 Problem-solving techniques, methods and tools

    9 Problem-solving tools for gathering and selecting ideas. Problem-solving tools support your meeting with easy-to-use graphs, visualisations and techniques. By implementing a problem-solving tool, you break the cycle of mundane verbal discussion, enabling you to maintain engagement throughout the session. ‍ 28. Fishbone Diagram

  20. Using Problem-Solving Techniques in Therapy

    Root cause analysis (RCA) is a method of identifying the underlying causes of a problem. By identifying the root cause, clients can develop a solution that addresses the problem at its source. RCA goes beyond simple cause and effect to identify and isolate concerns and failure points. There are five steps in an RCA: Define the problem.