13 Tips to Effective Brainstorming

Brainstorming sessions are a lot of fun, and we get to lead several of them during our client design sprints in order to unleash new creative ideas and come up with solutions to our clients’ problems.

However, sometimes the creative flow can start to slow down and may even come to a complete halt. And that’s never a good feeling.

It’s definitely uncomfortable when during a brainstorming session there is silence in the room, and the whiteboard has a lot fewer post-its than expected and there are officially zero good ideas. Has this ever happened to you?

Not to worry, that’s an entirely normal scenario even with the most creative team at Pixar!

Here are 13 brainstorming techniques you can suggest to get unstuck and bring the session to a better place:

  1. Become Someone else: How would you think about this problem if you were a different gender? If you were older? Younger? A different race or nationality? What if you were completely insane?
  2. Get Superpowers: What would you think or suggest if you suddenly possessed superpowers? What if you were IronMan, or Wonder Woman? What if you were the Joker or Marry Poppins? How would you think of the problem?
  3. Travel in Time: How would you have solved this issue 10 years ago? 100 years ago? How about in 10 years from now?
  4. Teleportation: What if you needed to come up with a solution in a different state, continent or universe?
  5. Think the Opposite: Think about what everyone else would do in this situation and then just do the opposite.
  6. Exaggeration: Exaggerate your goal x10, x100 or x1000! How would you deal with it then? What if your goal were to be 1/10 or 1/100 of what it is? How would you achieve it?
  7. Randomness: Stimulate yourself with completely random inputs and see how you can fit it into your situation. Play a random youtube video, open a magazine on a random page, google something random on your keyword and click the first website that comes up.
  8. Comedy: Losing up the room’s atmosphere with a comic sketch can go a long way (and can bring some random inputs as mentioned above).
  9. SWOT Analisis: Try doing a SWOT analysis of your situation. What are the Strengths? Weaknesses? Opportunities? Threats?
  10. Mind Map: A very useful tool to visualize your ideas, organize them hierarchically and categorize them is to use the mind mapping technique. Start with writing your goal in the center, then branch out into sub-topics, sub-subtopics, etc.
  11. Assumption Flipping: If your assumption is “People love listening to podcasts” flip it to “People do NOT love podcasts” Where will this lead to?
  12. Take a Brake: You just cannot force good ideas. As many of us have experienced, good ideas often come in the shower – when you least expect them. That’s because your mind sometimes just needs to detach from the situation and let your subconscious do the churning. So take a break and try again later on in the day or the day after.
  13. Meditation. While this is not exactly recommended in the middle of a group brainstorm session, it’s an extremely useful practice when you are alone in a quiet place. Simply focus on the one question you need an answer to and let it roll around in your mind. Don’t try to solve it in any way, just keep your mind still and focus on your breathing. Do this for 15 min or as long as it takes.

I hope you’ve found these brainstorming techniques to be useful and effective. And please share them with your friends 🙂

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Ignazio Lacitignola

Founder & Designer

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Ignazio Lacitignola

Founder & Designer

Ignazio, or “Igi” for friends and colleagues, is an Italian designer, creative, and entrepreneur. He feels weird talking about himself in 3rd person, but for the sake of this bio, he will.

Ignazio has been a curious creative since he can remember and embraced digital design as soon as he could afford a computer and an internet connection that wasn’t 56k dial-up.

Ignazio grew up in the ghetto side of Milano, Italy, and somehow managed to graduate with honors at Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti, without ever going to jail.

He followed his passion and moved to the USA to study User Experience in San Francisco where he launched his career with Meno Design, a digital design studio focused on simplifying digital experiences down to their core and learning through experimentation.

He believes that every piece of design can be a work of art and he is still learning to balance his OCD attention to details with time of execution.

Despite his friendly and calm appearance he deeply enjoys Italian swearing whenever spotting bad design decisions. Which is quite often, however he is quite friendly, you should say hi.