How to do Brainstorming Effectively

Brainstorming is a method to churn out ideas and then organize those inspired ideas of yours into a coherent whole that makes some sense to you.
Yet here’s a twist to the typical brainstorming technique that you’ve been taught or forced to swallow by your teachers, bosses, superiors or friends.

Introducing an Effective Brainstorming Technique
You’ll need a sufficiently thick rubber band that will cause enough pain when you stretch and release it upon your skin. If you are doing this by yourself, you need 1. If you are brainstorming with a team, you need enough rubber bands for everyone – 1 per person. This rubber band will be your chastisement device – it is a form of punishment that either you or your team members will inflict upon you if you commit the 1 grave sin of brainstorming – criticizing any idea that is being put forward on the table!

If you are brainstorming in a team, you need an individual who is either a neutral party to the matter being discussed or at least someone on the team who is wise and intelligent enough to know that all ideas are accepted in the initial stages of brainstorming, even the most absurd ones. He, she or it will be the Facilitator, the Judge and Executioner, the Vigilante who will strike out swiftly and mercilessly against those who voice any kind of protest or judgment against any idea being put forward – no matter how seemingly stupid it may seem at the moment (talk about irony). If you are brainstorming by yourself, you just need to be conscientious and impartial in meting out judgment against yourself.

You’ll also need an idea capturing device of sufficient capacity to physically contain and organize the mass (and mess) of ideas that will be poured out of the brain(s) of the participant(s). This could be a big whiteboard that you would put flat on the floor or table for your team’s common use, or a huge piece of drawing paper. Of course, a pen (or a bundle of them) would logically accompany the whiteboard or drawing paper.

Next in your arsenal is a sufficient pack of index cards. These cards are to be evenly distributed to every member of your brainstorming team if it’s a team effort.

The next step is really up to you or your team – you have a choice – either a bottom-up or a top-down approach:

Bottom-up means that you or your team will pour out random thoughts, details, ideas and notions onto the index cards (1 idea per card) after which you will group, categorize and organize them.

Top-down means you or your team will first think of the relevant categories, groupings, questions, attributes or taxonomies related to what you are brainstorming for or about, after which you’ll pour out your ideas, thoughts, notions and details onto the index cards (1 idea per card) for all, some or none of the different categories or groupings, either randomly or in an orderly manner.

You have to test which approach works best for you or your team. It may even be that you adopt 1 approach for the 1st round and then the other for the 2nd round would be the best way to go to produce the best ideas.