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Incorporating Design Thinking: How To Conduct A Productive Brainstorming Session

Let’s face it, we’ve all experienced that one uneventful meeting that got nothing done, gave us a rough start to our day, and severely held back our creative potential. As a result, this negative impact also seeps into our work productivity, affecting how much we’re able to do and our work quality on that day. It’s something we all wish we could avoid and desperately want to change.

But, on the opposite end of things, we’ve also managed to taste the sweet bliss of an effective brainstorming session, moments filled with creativity that you leave the conference room brimming with determination. Admittedly, this outcome is what we strive to achieve with every meeting, but most of us fail because of the lack of generating ideas.

Why It’s Important To Generate Ideas

Regardless if you specialize in brand development for a marketing agency or do graphic design for a major tech company, ideas are always the backbone of any business. And, while spur-of-the-moment ideas do happen individually, it’s when the team sits down and puts their brains together that makes a stark difference.

In our case, a wealthy amount of ideas to dig through play a significant role in transforming a simple meeting into a productive brainstorming session. To help meet the demand for idea generation, let’s borrow some principles from the design thinking process and implement them into our situation.

Embrace Creative Freedom

The first step is embracing creative freedom and conducting a meeting where the environment is conducive to idea generation. You want your team and colleagues to feel inspired where their thoughts can thrive and flourish alongside others. Creative freedom will serve as your baseline and act as the foundation for all subsequent creative sparks that come to mind throughout the duration of the brainstorming session.

  • Quantity Over Quality: Now, you may have been taught that you should always value quality over quantity, that customers and clients prefer excellence over an abundance of just good enough. But, in the case of handling meetings, quantity is superior to quality because having an abundance of ideas gives you more to work with and discuss. More is more, and intentionally having fewer ideas before properly explored limits a brainstorming session’s effectiveness.
  • Save The Criticism For Later: On the topic of quantity over quality, you will also want to save any criticism or judgment of proposed ideas for the later end of the meeting. Creative freedom calls for each participant to spread their wings, and putting someone’s idea down just as they propose it is the same as clipping off their wings. While evaluation is essential, this should take place in a separate step to encourage everyone to give out as many ideas as possible.

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Understanding “Requirements”

The second step is understanding the definition of “requirements” and its difference between the term idea. Sadly, many people often use these interchangeably when there is a strong distinction that separates the two. For example, typical “ideas” thrown out during brainstorming sessions include; make it more affordable, use cutting-edge technology, make the design more ergonomic, or make the screen bigger. However, these aren’t “ideas” but rather requirements, necessary upgrades to a specific line of product or services. Ideas entail a solution, whereas requirements do not.

  • Problem Identification: You want to start by identifying the core problem and finding out what weaknesses your strategy, product, or service carry. In doing so, you can direct your efforts towards answering the problem and creating an actionable solution. Take, for example, the recent iPhones, which have only gotten bigger with every new model, but these phones no longer fit inside pockets comfortably. Apple’s answer is going back to its roots and launching the iPhone 12 Mini, which addresses the identified problem.
  • Present Possible Solutions: As such, you will want to present and welcome all possible solutions to the problem. Once you’ve exhausted all your outlets, weed out the ideas that don’t meet the standard and narrow down your selection of actionable solutions. Luckily, anything goes in a brainstorming session, and any idea is welcome as long as it’s possible, profitable, and realistic.

Park Your Ideas

Last but not least, once you reach the later stages of discussion and discourse in a meeting, you will be going through each idea one by one. It can get very intensive and tiresome, so a good technique to implement is parking your ideas.

As the name suggests, whenever you hit a wall during a discussion and can’t move forward, park the idea and come back to it at a later point in the meeting. This will let your team make progress, and as more ideas are introduced, you can make connections and backtrack to the parked ideas.

Tailor To Your Brainstorming Needs

Everything mentioned above is a guideline, and everyone’s brainstorming needs can vary from one business to the next. So, feel free to tailor these tips, tricks, and methods according to best suit your industry and match the problem you’re trying to solve

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