Create Your Own Storm
When someone says, "Let’s brainstorm," it brings to mind a few different feelings. The creative part of me loves to brainstorm new ideas or ways to look at things. The "let’s get to it" part of me sometimes sighs at the concept, knowing that it could take us off on tangents and eat valuable time. Overall, brainstorming is a positive concept—it harbors innovation and improvement, creativity and teamwork.
The definition of the word usually involves at least two people throwing out unhampered ideas or solutions based on a goal they’re trying to achieve. It may be coming up with a better process, a customer program, a product launch or a host of other types of opportunities. It can be deterred by obstacles in different forms—the most common being money and rules. For example, the best ideas might cost more than you’re able to spend. By rules, I mean "real" rules—thinking up and implementing illegal practices might have you wearing orange and brainstorming with fellow inmates.
The other obstacle is that the brainstorming is usually done within a group. What happens when you’re by yourself and don’t have another brain to storm with? It might be the middle of the night and you’re stuck for an idea related to a project you need to pitch in the morning. Or you might be developing an idea that you just don’t want to share with others yet, but your brain is cramping rather than storming.
Never fear—your brain can storm alone. Just because you aren’t in a group of people, you still have access to a number of tools that can help you develop a downpour of ideas.
- Paper and pencil. Yes, pretty basic. However, there are a few methods that can get your ideas flowing. What are you trying to accomplish? Write it at the top—then jot down 20 words, phrases or sketches that tie in. Don’t think about the perfect words—just write them as they pop in your mind. Once you have your words or pictures, skim over and circle the ones you like. The right words or phrases may not be what you implement, but they can kickstart the idea that eventually becomes your go-to.
- Social media. This should be used if you have the self-discipline to focus on the project at hand and not get pulled into a game of Candy Crush. Going to a marketing-related LinkedIn group can provide a number of offshoots that could lead to your "aha" moment. Visiting an interesting page with thousands of members might provide a creative nugget within a photo or comment.
- Remember, anything goes. Get quirky. Using your word capture tool of choice, throw off all constraints. If you had an unlimited budget, what would you do? If you were the client making the decision, what would you do and why? If time wasn’t an issue, if unicorns flew over rainbows—it doesn’t matter. Go crazy. Dare to dream. Reality can set in later, but you’ll have a great list of ideas that could be more feasible than you originally thought.
Yes, you can reach out to your friends and peers in a number of ways to brainstorm even when they’re not physically there. Asking someone who isn’t familiar with your challenge what they think can create new ideas. There are a number of ways to connect and brainstorm with others. However, for those times when you don’t want to wake up your fellow stormers, or if you feel like a little solitude, you can create your own storm. Just bring an umbrella.