Most organizations and teams want to come up with really cool ideas that will solve whatever problem or challenge they are facing. Teams usually start with the typical brainstorming session. Everyone shouts out ideas and someone furiously writes them down. This can be a good start, but soon most groups tend to fizzle out and need more creative stimulation. Here are three ideas on how to move past the plateau and generate lots of new ideas.
- Use Brainstorming Rules – Before you begin the idea generation session, remind the group of the four rules of brainstorming. I highly recommend having this visually posted in the room. The rules are:
- Suspend judgment
- Aim for quantity over quality
- Build and connect on other’s ideas
- Go for wild idea.
It may seem unusual to have rules for a creative activity, but these rules will help people generate more ideas and get more creative. If there is fear of getting eye-rolls from a colleague for an outrageous idea, then there will be more silence and fewer ideas. So be sure to emphasize the rules. Of course, role modeling helps so demonstrate by sharing outrageous ideas yourself.
- Use Climer Cards – A deck of Climer Cards is a great tool for moving beyond the
brainstorm. The 52 images were designed to generate metaphors and inspire ideas. Spread all the images on the table or floor so everyone can see them (if you have a large group you might need multiple decks). Once the images are spread out, tell the group to use the images to spark new ideas related to the proposed challenge. If you don’t have a deck of Climer Cards you can buy them here. Or, you can also use images from magazines, copyright free clipart, or collect postcards on your worldly travels (that one might take a long time).
- When the Going Gets Tough, Keep Going – Often the best ideas come during the last 20% of the ideas generated. Can you get 300 ideas in an hour? Somewhere in those last 60 ideas there is bound to be a gem. Keep going.
Once you have lots of idea start looking a bit closer to see which ones have promise. This is when it is ok to use that critical eye. Just don’t get too critical too soon. Do the outrageous ideas have some promise? What if they were combined with other ideas?
To make these tips easy to use in the moment I created a free, downloadable cheat sheet. It includes these three plus a fourth bonus tip. Download it below and bring it to your next idea generation meeting.
Give these three steps a try and let me know how it goes. I especially want to hear about the great ideas you came up with! Happy idea generation!
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