Sometimes all it takes to achieve a better outcome is to change your point of view. Sound like something your therapist might say? As it turns out, this prescription for a better life also works to improve your brainstorming sessions.
If you ever lead brainstorming and find your participants rehashing the same ideas, or simply remaining silent, this could be just what the doctor ordered. In this post we’ll show you how playing with point of view enables brainstormers to approach the topic from a different mindset, which leads to more creative results. You can see this shift immediately, in just one brainstorming session, so we encourage you to think about which of these tools seems like a good fit for your team, and give it a try.
The following four brainstorming techniques are easy to implement. Each incorporates a simple but effective point-of-view tool. If you missed #1 in our Brainstorming Techniques series – check it out here: Using Numbers, SCAMPER, & Starburst to Create Ideas
Figuring Out A New Perspective: Figure Storming
This technique is a sort of role-playing, and can be both fun and challenging in addition to being highly effective for generating ideas from a new perspective. To begin, choose a historical or popular figure like a U.S. president, a religious leader or a celebrity. Then, conduct the brainstorm as you normally would, but instruct participants to respond from the imagined point of view of the famous person you’ve chosen.
This requires some thought and imagination. Just the act of approaching a task like brainstorming from this space of creative thought will jumpstart the flow of ideas. It forces participants to take their own ideas and apply a different filter to them. It’s interesting to watch your team make this shift.
You can mix it up by switching out the famous figure in the middle of the brainstorming, which forces another mind shift, and thus new ideas. Or you can set up the session so that each participant takes on an individual persona for the entire time, leading to a medley of thoughts from completely different perspectives.
Become the Hunter
In this unusual approach to brainstorming, participants take on the persona of a hunter. They literally go on the hunt for words, phrases and images that spark creative approaches to the problem. Present the question or problem to the group, then give them a set amount of time to search the web for ideas about how to solve the problem. Or you can get tactile and use the old-school approach, where each participant looks through magazines and newspapers, cutting out the words and pictures that help them generate creative ideas. When the time is over, each person shares their clippings and the discussion takes off from there.
Go Round Robin
As you’ve surely experienced, there are almost always a few quiet members of the group who rarely get the opportunity to speak up during group brainstorming sessions. This approach opens up the brainstorm session to include everyone’s point of view.
If you’re in a space with the entire team, form a circle. If working remotely, use Cardsmith to create a card for each participant. Then, go in order around the circle or through your cards, so that each team member is allowed time to offer an idea. No critiquing or questioning is permitted until each person has had the chance to speak.
You’ll end up with a wide variety of points of view about the topic you’re discussing—including ideas generated by the more timid group members who rarely speak up during brainstorming. By shifting to this approach, you’ll get to hear their valuable input.
Facilitate New Viewpoints—and Group Consensus
This method uses a moderator to conduct the brainstorming session, which sets up opportunities to see the problem from widely varied viewpoints. This is different than the typical brainstorming session that so many of us are used to, where the boss stands up and asks her team for ideas. Instead, bring in someone unrelated to your team, and have that person lead the brainstorming session. In many cases, you can hire a professional to do this. You can also pull someone from a different group within your organization, or a colleague from another company.
For this technique, the leader will conduct an icebreaker activity to get people into a creative mindset. Then, participants are asked to throw out as many ideas as possible, and to refrain from judgment. The facilitator writes everything down. One of the facilitator’s other key jobs is to include people who seem shy about presenting their thoughts—thus ensuring that each participant has a chance to offer their unique point of view. After this part is over, the facilitator will have everyone vote for their favorite idea using a secret ballot, and then the entire group decides whether to enact the winning idea. These final steps shift your team’s perspective from abstract to active: you’re no longer simply looking for potential solutions, you’re agreeing upon a favored solution. This shared consensus builds buy-in and gives everyone a clear direction to pursue.
Next time we will look at several brainstorming methods that bring more analytical thinking into the process, for more targeted results.