How to carry out brainstorming sessions?

Creativity is a much desired quality among workers, regardless of the branch of industry they work in. However, it proves to be particularly useful for people who deal with marketing and advertising. It has to be stated that creative thinking and the abil

Creativity is a much desired quality among workers, regardless of the branch of industry they work in. However, it proves to be particularly useful for people who deal with marketing and advertising. It has to be stated that creative thinking and the ability to take a look at certain issues from a different point of view help solve many practical, professional, and family problems quicker and with higher effectiveness.

Creativity makes it possible to improve projects, or it can lead to the discovery of new approaches to some issues. A high degree of creativity is important for candidates who want to find a job. Of course, employers value many other qualities as well. How to stimulate creativity? The so-called brainstorming sessions are the answer. The sessions, which are usually carried out in large groups, make it easier to complete tasks and to find solutions even for the most complicated problems. Though creativity can be an innate quality, it will fade away if it is not practiced regularly. The question of how to carry out brainstorming sessions effectively will be discussed in the following lines.

The notion of creative thinking

One can often hear about the need for creative thinking or the need for a constructive approach to a problem, but do we really know what hides behind these two notions? Creative thinking should be understood as reaching out beyond already established patterns of action and understanding. One should dismiss any stereotypes as well as any norms of action in order to trigger creative thinking. Of course, this does not mean that creative thinking has to be in opposition to ethics and morality. There is nothing further from the truth.

Creative thinking is an innate ability, but it has to be cultivated like a garden in order to function properly. If it is overburdened by routine in professional life and the acquisition of experience, there is nothing that remains of it after several years. Professional experience is, of course, a highly desired quality, but a bitter approach towards certain issues does not help solve problems quickly and effectively. Having a fresh approach is a true virtue.

Let us take a look at children. They perceive the world in a very natural way, with all their senses. Their minds are not plagued by past memories, therefore, their imagination proves to be limitless. In consequence, they break the established social conventions and reach beyond common ways of thinking. As a result, it is safe to say that they are the most creative people of us all. However, their imagination and fantasy can be suppressed by the grayness of the outside world. There is little we can do about it except for helping them practice their creativity and allow them to make use of it in practice. In order to stimulate constructive thinking, it is essential to regularly exercise our minds.

How to trigger the process of creative thinking?

Have you noticed that adults take some time in order to answer questions, whereas children provide answers instantaneously, even though their responses often prove to be wrong or irrational? Adults fear to be laughed at, while children do not know that they can trigger such a reaction. A grown up person looks for hidden meanings and obstacles within messages, whereas a child interprets a given message literally.

Is it possible to look at the world through a child’s eyes after many years of being an adult? It is not impossible, however, one has to dismiss all kinds of prejudices and everyday ways of thinking, and open his mind to new experience and sensations. If our thinking is not limited by some conventional standards, we may find some totally unexpected solutions. Sometimes, creative thoughts appear simply out of nowhere, making us productive for our entire company or the project we are currently working on.

Necessity is the mother of invention, therefore, if some external impulse appears, it may stimulate us to think creatively and search for new solutions. The previously mentioned brainstorming can prove to be such an impulse. Brainstorming sessions are often carried out in such fields as marketing, advertising, public relations, or customer services. Custom approaches are highly praised in those areas and prove to be a real asset. Special trainings and courses devoted to creative thinking have increased in popularity in recent times. As it has already been said, our constructive thinking processes are stimulated by some external impulses. The most important ones are related to our experience, intelligence, emotional sphere and mind exercising.

Exercising constructive thinking

How to exercise our minds? It is not an easy task. It requires a lot of our attention and involvement in the whole process. There is no doubt that it is thanks to mind exercises that we boost our creative thinking. Similarly to exercises performed by sportsmen, mind exercises should be appropriately designed and carefully thought-out if they are to yield good results. In order for such results to appear, we should find a good mentor who will design for us a list of exercises that will stimulate creative thinking. It is interesting that many companies, mainly foreign, but Polish as well, employ specialists whose sole purpose is to direct employees in such a way that their creative thinking is maximized and their constructive approaches to certain problems appear in the right moment. These specialists use a variety of techniques to achieve these goals. Out of these, the brainstorming technique deserves the most attention.

What is brainstorming?

It is, no more and no less, one of the most effective and well known techniques of creative thinking. It was created and designed just before the Second World War, in the year 1936, by Alex Faickney Osborn who was a director of an advertising company. He strongly believed that a properly carried out brainstorming session leads to outstanding results. By those results he meant creative thoughts and problem solutions. Every brainstorming session can be divided into two, separate stages, namely:

The green stage: During this stage, all members of a brainstorming session express any ideas that come to their mind in reference to a given task. It is unimportant whether or not these ideas are rational or justified. In the green stage, nobody should evaluate others’ ideas in any way.

The red stage: In this stage, participants of a brainstorming session analyze all of the previously mentioned ideas and choose those which will most probably lead to the best possible solutions of a given problem at a given time.

The term brainstorming is associated with chaos, however, there are several rules that should be followed in order for the whole meeting to be successful and the overall process was swift and unobstructed.

It has to be stated that brainstorming is an effective tool that should be used only in reference to a specific group of people. Generally speaking, this technique is not used in reference to a single person, though it is not impossible. One has to be very open-minded and have the ability to dismiss all stereotypes and prejudices in order to find a satisfying solution to a problem. During this process, regular employees can stand together, side by side, with specialists from a given field.

The rules of brainstorming

The rule of delayed evaluation – During the first stage, it is forbidden for anyone to evaluate the ideas of any members of the staff. Therefore, every person has the opportunity to express his thoughts on the issue, regardless of their kind and the chances of their application.

The rule of shifting from quantity to quality – Generally speaking, it is all about choosing from a variety of ideas the solutions which can best fulfill our needs.

The rule of free thinking – Every idea, even the most unreal one, should be spoken out loud. What seems to be the most ridiculous thing can turn out to be the best possible solution.

The rule of modification – It is highly desired to modify the proposed ideas even to a large extent, regardless of who proposed them.

The rule of suggestion – It is worth to listen to other members’ suggestions as this can be very helpful in the pursuit of new ideas.

However, the most important thing during a brainstorming session is to dismiss all prejudices, any stereotypical thinking, and common thought patterns that we use every day. Even the most crazy and absurd ideas can have many advantages and can prove to be ingenious in reference to certain issues. If we relax a bit and chill for a moment, our ideas will certainly be far better and more creative. This is why it is so important to make some breaks at work.

Brainstorming is put into the group of heuristic problem solving methods, i.e., creative ones. This method makes it easier to search for ideas on a large scale. Brainstorming undoubtedly supports the process of creation and can be applied in various types of businesses.

Making effective use of brainstorming in practice

Usually, managers do not make effective use of the brainstorming technique, as they do not follow the aforementioned rules. Brainstorming sessions should not be associated with loose discussions. It is not about free talking. Brainstorming is bound by rules. If one does not follow those rules, it does not prove to be an effective tool for stimulating creative thinking. It is important to properly carry out both stages of a brainstorming session. Otherwise, we will not achieve success. Once everyone’s ideas are presented, we should carefully analyze all the proposed solutions. In order to have a fresh approach to those suggestions, the analysis of ideas can be carried out even after a few days from the first brainstorming session.

A properly arranged brainstorming session is an excellent tool that helps solve complicated problems in professional and private life. If we follow the previously mentioned rules with diligence, everything will be carried out swiftly and effectively.