Every Friday at SurfaceID, we gather around the white board and let our imaginations run free. Brainstorming weekly is always a great way to get a fresh prospective on challenges we’re resolving. Here are a few brainstorming techniques we’ve adopted that have proven to be effective. So far they have helped us get the most out the precious time we spend brainstorming as a team.

  • Let there be snacks!

bagels

Nothing brings people together like food. It lightens the mood and gets everyone excited for the meeting or brainstorming session.

  • Be Specific and Actionable

brainstorming session moderator

Brainstorming is most effective when it aims to solve a specific issue. When left too open-ended, brainstorming sessions risk not generating any relevant ideas. Along with outlining a specific topic, there needs to be a plan for what to do with the ideas generated. For instance, we will often task one designer to review the ideas after the meeting, and explore a few of them further with sketches and prototypes. In this way, ensure that ideas generated at these meetings will be put into practice.

  • Embrace Crazy Ideas

brainstorming-parachute

Especially at the beginning of the meeting when the team is still warming up, an idea that’s completely crazy gets the conversation going and often leads to better, more reasonable ideas. So let those crazy ideas flow!

  • No Criticism

brainstorming-no-crit

Nothing kills momentum faster than evaluating ideas in a brainstorming session. Fear of criticism discourages the group from sharing their crazy ideas, which, as mentioned earlier, are often the most valuable. No matter how unconventional an idea is, it still of value and may inspire a practical solution. If group members begin criticizing ideas, the moderator must to shut it down as soon as possible.

  • Moderate

An un-moderated meeting will easily steer itself off-course. The moderator’s job is to keep the discussion on topic, discourage criticism, record the ideas being generated and invigorate the conversation when momentum is slowing down. This can be done by suggesting different angles from which to tackle the issue.

For example:

  • What if the user was a young adult male, or a mother of 3?
  • What if it the product must be made out of a single extruded part?
  • How might this design be made the size of an apple, or the size of a couch?
  • What if it has to cost 5$, or what if it has to cost 5000$?

A moderator should insure that only one person is speaking at a time while being as inclusive as possible. Some voices will always be louder than others in any group.

We hope these 5 brainstorming tips will help your team unleash their innermost creativity! Have any of your own brainstorming tips you’d like to share? Please do so in the comments!