Brainstorming is described as a creative activity that yields many solutions to a given challenge. You can brainstorm by yourself or with others, but it’s been found that brainstorming in a group is much more effective. There are many brainstorming techniques that can be applied to any challenge or problem you have and brainstorming is actually very fun!

The key to an effective brainstorming session is to accurately describe and define your problem or challenge so that you are able to create relevant solutions. This step must be done first and should not be skipped.

Here are 13 brainstorming techniques to get you started.

1. Teleportation. What if you were facing this problem in a different place? Different country? Different geographic region? Different universe? Different plane of existence?

2. Attribute change. How would you think about this if you were a different gender? Age? Race? Intellect? Height? Weight? Nationality? With each attribute change, you become exposed to a new angle of thinking.

3. Role Modeling. What would you do if you were someone else? Your competitor? Your parent? Your manager? Your employee? Your partner? Your best friend? Etc?

4. Iconic Figures.  What would an iconic figure do? Alex Bogusky? Buddha? Thomas Edison? Steve Jobs? Meg Whitman? Maria Shriver? Tiger Woods? Hugh Heffner?

5. Superpowers. What if you suddenly have superpowers? X-ray vision, flying, superhuman strength, etc. How would that effect your situation?

6. Mind Map. The mind map is a great tool to work out as many ideas as you can in hierarchical tree and cluster format. Start off with your goal in the center, branch out into the major sub-topics, continue to branch out into as many sub-sub-topics as needed.

7. Medici Effect. Medici Effect refers to how ideas in seemingly unrelated categories intersect. For example, Nike and iPod, both in different spaces, knew there was an intersection between running and music. They capitalized on it with Nike Plus. What other categories can you think of where an intersection might exist and be capitalized upon?

8. Group Writing. Get a group of people and have them write their challenge or problem on their own sheet of paper. After 5-8 minutes, rotate the sheets to different people and build off what the others wrote on their paper. Continue until everyone has contributed to all challenges.

9. Post-Its. Use post it notes to do some rapid ideation. For 10 minutes write down every idea on it’s own post it. Stick all of the post it’s on a table or wall and start arranging them to create new solutions or in order of best to worst.

10. Opposite Thinking.  Look at the assumptions behind the goal you are trying to achieve, then flip that assumption around and look at it as it’s opposite. For example, you might design women’s shoes. Your assumption may be that women buy shoes for their feet. Flip the assumption around such that women do NOT buy for their feet. What will this lead to? They buy shoes for their hands? Another assumption may be that women buy women’s shoes. The flip side of this assumption may be that men buy women’s shoes or that women buy men’s shoes. Looking at your assumptions in an opposite manner will bring you to a different angle that you can attack your solution with.

11. Resource Availability. What if money, time, people, supplies are not issues at all? What if you can ask for whatever you want and have it happen? What will you do?

12. Exaggeration. Exaggerate your goal and see how you will deal with it now. Make the goal so big or so small that it seems ridiculous and then think of solutions to handle it at that magnitude.

13. Rapid Ideation. Open a notebook and write a laundry list of at least 50 ideas to deal with your challenge. Write as fast as you can without restricting yourself. Do not stop until you have at least 50.

Now that you've stormed your way to a brilliant idea, ready to learn how write a business plan?


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