Say "see ya later, bro" to your creative block and take your team’s brainstorming to the next level with these tips.
If you’ve ever binge-watched Mad Men, you probably have a “maybe sort of slightly” incorrect idea of what a creative brainstorming session at work should look like. Unlike that (awesome) AMC show about advertising, a 2020 brainstorming session doesn't always involve brilliant rapid-fire ideas. Also, unlike a 1960's office, you're probably consuming way less scotch at your desk.
Here’s what does happen: You get stuck.
You’ve brought the whole work crew into the conference room for some brainstorming, and suddenly you’re all kinda just staring out the window. Your great idea is out there! But… where the heck is it?
The next thing you know, you’re all watching viral videos on YouTube to, you know, spark your creative energy (aka procrastinate).
Fear not; we’ve unlocked a few secrets that will show you how to brainstorm ideas at work. Read on, and prepare for greatness:
1. Quantity over quality
Remember that lesson your mom taught you about making friends in the second grade? “Quality over quantity,” she said.
Throw that out the window!
A brainstorming session at work is very much the opposite. Often, people clam up during these types of meetings because they’re trying to find the perfect suggestion. Remind your coworkers (and yourself!) that the first step is coming up with as many ideas as possible.
2. There are no bad ideas
Uh… but wait… what if those ideas are bad? That brings us to rule numero dos. There are no bad ideas. Seriously. Zilch. Zip. None.
Much like Planet Fitness, your brainstorming session at work should be a judgment-free zone. That means that there is no criticism allowed, no lol-ing at someone's ridiculously terrible marketing pitch.
A crappy idea can be workshopped into a good idea, or it can just be a warmup for the best idea your work squad has ever had.
3. How to brainstorm ideas: Keep it weird
Both Austin and Portland claim keeping it weird as their own thing. Be like Austin and Portland… even if you’re not in those cities. Just be freaking weird.
Sometimes, so-crazy-it-just-might-work actually does work.
So, operate outside the bounds of reality a bit. Who cares if an idea starts with “well, in a perfect world” or “if things were different”? Sometimes the impossible can happen.
And with the freedom to be weird comes the liberty to be way more creative. So go for it, you beautiful nut jobs. Let your freak flags fly and put your wildest dreams on paper. That super crazy big concept strategy can always be scaled back—but why not start by shooting for the moon?
4.Take more breaks
You're an hour in, and you've come up with nothing—so why the hell do you deserve a break?
Believe it or not, taking more breaks can do a lot for your brainstorming session.
News flash: You were not meant to work for eight hours straight. You are human! And your brain works better when it has a second to chill.
Don’t believe us? That’s cool; let’s just ask science. There’s evidence that proves that working for 52 minutes and then taking a 17-minute break is the ideal way to be productive and perform better. Utilize this strategy while brainstorming with your team.
Have timed power sessions where you shoot out ideas and then break. During this time, people can go outside, walk around, hang out with each other—whatever they need to do to recharge. When you all come together again, you'll be focused and ready to dive right back in.
5. Bring in an outsider
Even the cantankerous, prolific Hemingway struggled with writer’s block. If you're creatively stalled, you are def not alone. It happens to the best of teams. Sometimes you simply reach a total impasse. The ideas bank is empty. The concepts you’ve come up with aren’t totally there yet.
What to do? Bring in an outsider.
Grab someone from another team (not literally!) and run your best ideas by them. Let’s say you’re the creative department. Seek the advice of accounting or human resources.
You just might find that they have a fresh perspective—or at least the perspective of someone who hasn’t been staring at the same list of ideas for several hours.
6. Teamwork makes the dream work
The great philosopher/poet Vanilla Ice said it best: Stop, collaborate, and listen.
Or, in other words, break into mini-groups for collaborative brainstorming sessions. Build off of each other's ideas to make them even better.
A brainstorming meeting shouldn't be a bunch of individuals shouting separate ideas into the void; it should be a group of people working together.
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