4 Golden Rules of Brainstorming
If you’re anything like me, your mind is constantly on the go, buzzing with ideas for your business. But sometimes getting those ideas out of your head so you can turn them into something tangible can be a bit tricky.
That’s when I turn to brainstorming.
Brainstorming is my absolute favourite way to make sense of ideas. Why? Because in its purest form, brainstorming is the process of creating possibilities. Imagine that a possibility is a door to achievement. The more doors you have, the more places you can go. So, investing time in brainstorming the ideas that pop into your head, means you have more possibilities to make them a reality.
Brainstorming is an activity with a goal: to flesh out ideas you’ve already had, or come up with new ideas or solutions. It’s normally thought of as a group exercise and the concept is that the group of people come together and discuss possible solutions to a problem. But you know what? Brainstorming doesn’t have to be done in a group, and it doesn’t have to be solving a problem. You can brainstorm in a group, or with a biz buddy, or you can brainstorm by yourself. Don’t think you can’t brainstorm just because you’re the only person in your business. It’s a powerful exercise in idea generation no matter how many people are taking part.
How to brainstorm effectively
There are plenty of techniques used in brainstorming. One of the simplest techniques is something you probably do on a daily or weekly basis: writing a list. Yep, that daily or weekly To-Do list is a form or brainstorming.
Another technique, which is one of my favourites, is creating a mind map. A mind map is where you start with your main topic in the centre of the page and add ideas all around, building on each idea as you go. Other brainstorming exercises can be more complex, some of them fun and very creative, some of them feel like you’re playing a game. But no matter which technique you use, the goal is always the same:
My 4 rules for brainstorming success
You might be wondering why you need rules when brainstorming is a casual and creative exercise. But I can assure you these rules provide a framework and actually provide more freedom to unleash your creativity.
Trust me, they’re good rules!
Rule 1 – No judgement!
You heard me. Brainstorming is all about coming up with possibilities. It’s not about categorising them into good and bad, it’s just about coming up with the ideas.
No one should be judged for any possibility they present, because that’s just going to disrupt the flow of ideas, stifle creativity and make people feel like they can’t speak freely. It’ll be at the cost of some really good ideas.
Rather than judge in a brainstorming session, use encouragement instead. If you’re taking part in the brainstorm, encourage your peers. If you’re facilitating the session, make sure your participants know that judgement is not welcome.
I know what you’re thinking. Most of your brainstorming is done by you, and you alone. This rule still applies. Don’t judge yourself for ideas you come up with. You’ll no doubt have that voice in your head that says “no, that idea sucks, I’m not going to write it down,” but ignore that voice. Write the idea down. Remember, the process is about possibilities, not decisions. It’s not about good or bad ideas, just possibilities.
Why do I put so much emphasis on this? Because if you stop yourself from exploring one idea it’ll disrupt your natural flow, possibly preventing you from exploring a really, really good one.
Rule 2 – Keep building
Your ideas will probably start quite broad, but don’t be discouraged. Don’t think you won’t come up with any great ideas just because the first ones are average. The process of brain storming is like the trunk of a tree.
You start with the main trunk, and as you keep exploring the trunk splits into branches. Each branch separates into more branches until eventually you have a big beautiful network of branches and leaves.
So, write your broad ideas down, and then keep exploring. This will help your mind release more and more ideas.
Rule 3 – Encourage crazy ideas
This is my favourite rule. Brainstorming is the process of coming up with possibilities, but no-one said they all have to be realistic.
They aren’t a plan, they aren’t a strategy. They’re just ideas.
So have fun with the crazy ideas that come to your head, and don’t forget to write them down too. Crazy and unrealistic ideas that you know won’t work, can release your creativity leading you to the golden nugget of possibilities.
Or your idea might be crazy enough to work.
Rule 4 – Quantity over quality
Normally we’re always striving for quality, but when it comes to brainstorming, you can chuck perfectionism out the window! Get all your ideas out of your head and onto paper (or your computer, or Trello board, or wherever). Don’t worry about the quality of your ideas at this stage. When it’s time for you to refine your ideas to make decisions and come up with a goal or a strategy, that’s when you can be picky about which ideas to use.
But while you’re brainstorming, just focus on getting as many ideas down as possible. When you do that, you end up with more ideas, better quality ideas and more possibilities than if you were to focus on only writing down the “good ideas”.
I challenge you to try it!
Now I’ve shared my 4 top brainstorming rules with you, I challenge you to test them out for yourself. Over the next week or two when you have the start of a great idea rattling around in your head, take a few minutes to sit down and brainstorm. Follow my simple rules and see where they take you! I’d love to hear how you go.
Michelle is a chocoholic, stationery obsessed Business Coach from the seaside town of Mandurah, WA. She specialises in working with Virtual Assistants and B2B service providers, helping them to grow a business that fulfills them, without feeling the overwhelm and angst that comes with running your own show.
About the author
Michelle is a chocoholic, stationery obsessed Business Coach from the seaside town of Mandurah, WA. She specialises in working with Virtual Assistants and B2B service providers, helping them to grow a fulfilling, sustainable and profitable home-based business.
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