The Alternative to Brain Storming


If you’re like countless thousands of corporate types the world round, then surely you’ve participated in a ritual called “Brain Storming.”  I would always submit two heads are better than one, unless it’s me and my 1 year old, Sophia.  Most of her ideas focus in on graham crackers and barefoot walks in the grass; and while that’s an adorable picture, it’s simply not always practical.

The next time you get an email or call to the conference room to brain storm, think about it.  There you sit in your chair, next to a few others, who are looking around the room.  Someone moderates the group, under the supposition that you’re not to poo-poo the others ideas and then at the countdown of 3-2-1-Go – you’re off…tossing out ideas…looking out the window…staring at the ceiling…thinking about that email you have to write…and then suddenly you realize this is a waste of time.  While the room may commonly feature product shots from your company, your surrounded by the same-old same old and a great idea is about as foreign as finding the 3rd quarter in your desk drawer when you desperately need that Mountain Dew.
Here’s a tip that I suggest and yes I will attribute this yet again to Doug Hall and his book, How to Jump Start Your Brain.  Whether your issue is about the latest sneaker design or the best way to market a new coffeemaker, keep a stack of magazines nearby or DVD’s or better yet – suggest an alternative place to brainstorm – someplace away from the company’s walls.  If that isn’t possible, grab your magazines, throw them on the table and then for 10-15 minutes prior to the list-making event, have everyone start to review the magazines.  Make sure the issues are all over the board:  Sports Illustrated, Family Circle, MacWorld, Time, etc.  The farther they are away from the product or idea you’re trying to overcome the better.  The obvious idea is to stimulate your brain by thinking of foreign ideas or putting yourself in a foreign environment.  Going to a coffee shop for a brain storming session instead of the conference room may help by seeing people you wouldn’t normally see at work.  Perhaps a smell elicits an idea that takes you down a path.  Regardless, in short time you or your group will birth an out of the box idea that no one saw coming.  
Try this idea out and drop me a line if it works.

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One Response

  1. Great suggestions for brainstorming methods, but I would submit that there is one more important step to take care of before you start brainstorming: What are you trying to accomplish?

    That is, what is the source of the problem that you are trying to solve and what is the end result of its resolution? Thinking outside the box is nearly impossible if you do not know what the box looks like.

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