Break Through to the Creative Side: Brainstorming Better Business Ideas


Don Draper might be able to pluck a genius idea from the air on demand, but research shows that the rest of us take a while to hit upon concepts, themes, or innovations that will actually land the right way. But as the business world inexorably speeds up and there’s increasing pressure to continuously develop new and brilliant ideas while adhering to ever-stricter time and budget limits, we need to create space for our teams to come up with truly great ideas. Because let’s face it, when it comes to creative thinking, first in isn’t always best dressed.

Here’s how to encourage thinking that pushes boundaries in all the right ways.

Encourage Quantity over Quality

This seems counterintuitive but bear with us. Studies show that despite conventional wisdom, creative thinking doesn’t actually drop off during an ideation session. The problem is that many people think that the creative well runs dry after a set amount of time. What happens, in this case, is that contributors will toss out a few ideas – their “best” – then take a back seat for the rest of the session.

You can get around this issue in brainstorming sessions by setting a minimum number of contributions during the meeting or during a set period of time. If participants are asked to generate 100 tag lines or 50 product ideas before a session’s close, you’ll get far more quality options than if you leave things open-ended. Focusing on quantity gives participants permission to do away with their inner censor and think laterally, and you’ll often end up with creative gold.

Mix Things (and Teams) Up

Bringing the same people together in the same space and context results in, you guessed it, the same kind of thinking. Try new personnel combinations, shake up the meeting environment, change up your brainstorming format, and incorporate new and surprising media and creative inspirations. Kicking off an ideation session with a role-play, themed playlist, free association exercise, or vision board can help get the creative juices flowing. So can an excursion out into the neighborhood or to a venue such as an art gallery, park, or museum.

You can also change up how your team gathers and collates their ideas – put away the whiteboards and encourage other means of note-taking and collaboration! Switching out markers for other media will help break people out of their typical framework for thinking, and the results will speak for themselves. Sketches, mashups, collages, and photography are all great options.

Build a Creative Culture

Even the most earnest brainstorming session will only net so-so results if your day-to-day work culture discourages creative thinking. You can tell your employees to be creative, but if everything around them signals that risky, out-of-the-box thinking is to be avoided, they’ll bring only staid, acceptable ideas to those creative meetings.

Foster a creative culture by providing spaces that show your employees that intriguing ideas are welcome – try incorporating vision boards, art installations, flexible seating arrangements, and tactile puzzles. Encouraging people to express their individuality and chime in with suggestions or ideas is also a great way to build a creative work environment. Do away with dress codes, put up suggestion boxes, and celebrate great solutions, concepts or campaigns. The more your team sees that you value their creative input, the more they’ll embrace it.

Do You Need a Creative Audit?

Need some help making sure that your team is being given everything they need to brainstorm winning ideas? Talk to StellaPop about conducting a creative audit. We can help you develop a work culture that fosters creativity so that you can take your ideas, innovation, and bottom line to the next level. For expert insight from an award-winning team, just give us a call!

See Also:

Dare to be Different: How to Put Together a Creative Campaign

How to be a Creative Wild Card

Building A Business Collaboration Machine: Use Teamwork to Make the Dream Work

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