Product Management Productivity Project Management

Brainstormings, the ultimate tool for creativity

Brainstorming sessions supported by simple things like whiteboards, post-its, or static notes, allows for faster changes, more divergent thinking, and more creativity. Teams and individuals all over the world use brainstorming to find creative solutions. In this post I explain some of the ways in which you can structure your brainstorming to make the most out of it.

I remember waking up the morning after putting up these notes. We had a team retreat with Cobot and we had been working late the night before. One of my colleagues caught me in this shot the morning after. Looking at the notes from our brainstorming, feeling like a detective trying to find the clue, the hidden link, a way to solve my puzzle.

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Why brainstorm?

Whenever I need to make up my mind about something or I need a strategy to accomplish an objective I refer to brainstorming, note-taking, post-it filling and diagramming.

One of the things I value in these methods is that they encourage me to find a lot of propositions instead of detailing one or two thoroughly. This way I get less attached to my ideas and are open to exploring more possibilities.

Using tools like the business model canvas, mission and vision statements, or project charters is a great way to structure information, but unstructured thinking allows for faster changes, more divergent thinking, and more creativity.

Since brainstorming encourages the proposition of ideas for which viability or feasibility or even profitability has not been justified, ideas tend to be more creative. In later stages one can always use other methodologies, such as the Beautiful Constraint, to bring ideas to production.

How to brainstorm?

A brainstorming session begins with a question. You want the question to be as concrete as it’s needed, but not more concrete. We’re not collecting requirements for a project or product, instead, we are trying to address a need or pain, and humans are not very specific about pains.

In brainstorming, quantity beats quality. We want to get as many ideas as we can on the board, using techniques like divergent thinking. Later on, we will group them by affinity, discard the ones that are very inviable. After divergent thinking exercises we will have a lot of ideas, and convergent thinking helps organise and structure ideas.

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