What does brainstorm mean? (A complete guide)

Today there is a great variety of techniques that have been developed with the aim of exploiting the creative potential of a work team, in order to obtain greater and better performance from it. With different procedures, some are more effective than others, and this time we will talk about a very particular tool known as “brainstorming”.

In this post we are going to answer the question ‘’What does brainstorm mean?’’ We will explain what brainstorming consists of, its main uses, and how to successfully brainstorm.

What does brainstorm mean?

Brainstorming means solving a problem by coming up with new ideas about a specific topic or problem.

Having a mental block is common. The workers of a company, your company, especially if they work individually, can go blank. How to prevent this from happening? Well, brainstorming can come to your aid.

To succeed in the corporate world, your company must generate significant income and be ahead of the competition. This is what the world sees, the final part of a complicated process that requires effort, dedication, creativity and teamwork.

Success does not belong to one person. Great ideas are often crafted by a collective. And brainstorming is the procedure through which they do it.

What is it? How does it apply? Is it really effective? Quiet. Continue with us and you will have your answers.

Where does ‘’brainstorm’’ come from?

In 1939, Alex Faickney Osborn was researching different ways to generate creativity. He realized that the best way to be creative in a company is through interaction and teamwork. Together they could give their opinions and suggestions on a certain topic. In this way he created brainstorming.

It is a technique used in teamwork to generate new ideas or solve a certain problem. Today, it is highly employed in business meetings or discussions.

Brainstorming means thinking quickly and spontaneously about a proposed topic. Osborn cautioned that you need to focus on only one problem at a time. Too many questions to debate can cause chaos.

All the participants in the debate offer the ideas they have and are related to the issue to be discussed. A moderator writes the generated ideas where they can be seen by all. The best is a blackboard.

Then you try to relate everything said and from those combinations, you try to generate a solution or the next great idea for your company.

What’s brainstorm?

But not even a storm can run chaotically in a company. And it is that brainstorming, although it is governed by spontaneity, has well-defined objectives. Which are?

The goal of brainstorming is to connect the thoughts that individual workers have on an issue. Then, in the collective combine them, take advantage of the best of each one of them and make satisfactory agreements for the company.

Brainstorming is also done in order to buy time. Think that, in a relatively short period, such as a meeting or debate, it is possible to meet and combine the ideas of a large number of people.

This technique is also used with the aim of encouraging the participation of the employees of a company. In this way they feel more identified and responsible with the work they do. In addition, it enhances the autonomy, originality and freedom of employees.

And finally, in a summarized way, it allows you to identify problems, analyze their causes and select alternative solutions.

What are the elements of brainstorming?

But what elements characterize brainstorming? Next we will see the main characteristics of brainstorming.

A moderator

As we said before, brainstorming is not about creating chaos. How to prevent this from happening? Well be simple. Every time you apply this technique, you must ensure the presence of a moderator.

This figure is in charge of writing all the ideas in a place where everyone can see them, of maintaining a pleasant and organized environment. This person must have leadership skills, have an open mind and be tolerant.

Defined time frame

The brainstorming should take place in a 60-90 minute time frame. During this period, various activities must be developed.

For example, the first 10 minutes can be devoted to motivation. Depending on the quantity and quality of the entries, 20 or 30 minutes are allocated to generating ideas. The time that remains, you can use in the analysis, synthesis and combination of all the ideas.

Participant limit

The group of people who participate should be 10 to 15 people. Why? If it is a larger group, there is the possibility that ideas will be lost and repeated.

Centralized objective

When you brainstorm, make sure that the discussion focuses on a single question. Therefore, preparation for the activity is important. Pre-design your goal and interests, and brainstorming will be more productive.

How to brainstorm?

This is the guide you have been waiting for to effectively develop this technique. The steps to truly successful brainstorming are as follows.

1.    Define the problem

Before starting the debate, you should already have this question very clear. It is the starting point, and for the technique to work, it is essential that it is accurate from the beginning. You can put it in the form of a question.

2.        Clarify the role of the participants

Be clear about the number of people who will be part of the debate. Who can really be helpful in solving a certain question? Then select the moderator. Remember that above we mentioned the characteristics that this figure should have.

3.       Establish the rules of the game

You know your team and the goal you set for yourself. Therefore, you are the best one to say the rules that everyone must follow. Now, there is one that cannot be missed: do not criticize others. In this way, all ideas can come to light with complete freedom.

4.       Begin brainstorming

Just remember that the problem must be visible to everyone. Use a slide, whiteboard, or whatever you have on hand. At this point, you have alternatives. The first is to give the participants a few minutes to think individually. The second is to develop the technique completely spontaneously. Bring up the topic and let the ideas flow freely.

5.       Finish the brainstorming

The activity ends when the participants stop generating ideas. What to do then? Well, what can generate doubts is explained in more detail, what is repetitive is discarded and the different ideas are brought together. In the end, when all are organized, a document will be drawn up that allows a clear analysis of the different alternatives to face a certain problem.

5 things not to do when brainstorming

We already know that it is worthwhile to adopt brainstorming as part of the creative process of the company, but also that it is necessary to respect some rules for it to have a positive effect on the company.

What are some of those rules? See below what should never be done during a brainstorming session, so as not to waste the potential that this practice has for the business:

1. Condemn the ideas of others

When bringing together people of different points of view, personalities and work approaches, it is very common for some ideas to appear to be bad or absurd at certain points in the discussion.

Even so, don’t allow one participant to quickly condemn another’s idea, as that could end up diverting the focus of the conversation or inhibiting others from participating.

From the beginning of the session, it encourages everyone to keep an open mind for ideas that seem not to be good, and instead of reproaching, it encourages a more careful evaluation of everything that was said and will be done in another meeting.

2. Interrupt the creative flow

Interrupting the session is lousy for the quality of your brainstorming. So if you want to leave the meeting with good ideas that can really be transformed into something concrete, eliminate any distractions.

That includes calls in the middle of the conversation, people who are not part of the discussion entering the room to ask something or run errands etc.

Every moment the conversation pauses, the creative flow is interrupted, that is, the participants may start to think about other matters and lose their line of reasoning. 

3. Let the conversation turn into a conference

If the conversation is in a group, it is vitally important that everyone in the room has a say in the problem that is being considered. So never let the session turn into a conferenc

In a conference, only one person speaks and the audience listens. At some point, there may be a question and answer session, but it is basically that.

If something similar happens in the brainstorming – few speak and the rest only attend – the meeting will be a waste of time and talent.

4. Allow conflict all the time

Conflicts are normal because as soon as a solution is presented, new variables can shift the tone and help refine the initial idea. The problem is letting conflicts happen all the time.

If that were the case, the approach will quickly change, and what was to find a solution to a problem, will turn to war to see who has the best arguments.

In addition to that, the atmosphere will become heavy without allowing anything constructive to be produced, and the whole purpose of the meeting will be lost.

Disadvantages of brainstorming

Yes, brainstorming is a method that encourages the participation of company members. It also contributes to providing faster and better solutions to certain problem situations. But, brainstorming has a few downsides to watch out for.

 

Parasitism

Brainstorming is group work, so some people may be too comfortable with the situation. What does this mean? So they rely on the ideas of others and do not contribute anything new.

Feeling of rejection

Sometimes ideas need to be discarded. Therefore, the people who contributed may feel rejected and their participation may decrease in the future. The process of putting aside ideas needs to be done tactfully so that no one is offended.

Fear of being criticized

It is a fear that many people suffer from. It is almost inherent to the human being. In the context of brainstorming it can be devastating as it means that the worker with this fear will stop contributing ideas that can be very valuable.

Poor performance in social contexts

There are people who do not know how to act in a public context. Brainstorming requires the presence of a group of employees and those who struggle with this socializing context may experience a personal block. As a result, the capacity of its potential will then fall below expectations.

Final words

Brainstorming is a technique used today to generate creativity and confidence among the employees of a company. Knowing how to use this resource can help position a company among the top positions in the market.

It will work? If you read the article carefully, then you already know the basic premises for brainstorming. Combine what you have learned with the characteristics of your business and your staff and, surely, the results will not disappoint you.

FAQS: What does brainstorm mean?

What is the definition of brainstorming?

Brainstorming is a group work tool that facilitates the emergence of new ideas on a specific topic or problem.

What is brainstorming and example?

Brainstorming is a collective innovation method by which attempts are made to find a conclusion for a particular issue by compiling a list of ideas collectively contributed by its participants.

For example, the family meets to decide where to go on vacation.

What does brainstorm ideas mean?

Brainstorming is a technique design teams use to generate ideas to solve design issues that are clearly identified.

What are the 3 types of brainstorming?

  • Reverse Brainstorming.
  • Stop-and-Go Brainstorming. 
  • Phillips 66 Brainstorming.

What is the example of brainstorming?

A group of students must do a work on a free topic, the team meets and begins to give ideas about the topics they would like.

In this post we answered the question ‘’What does brainstorm mean?’’ We explained what brainstorming consists of, its main uses, and how to successfully brainstorm.

If you have any questions or comments please let us know!

References

What Is Brainstorming REALLY, and Does It Work? (2011). Retrieved November 21, 2020, from Psychology Today website

‌Mind Tools. (1996, November 11). Brainstorming – Creativity Techniques from MindTools.com. Retrieved November 21, 2020, from Mindtools.com website

‌There’s a Better Way to Brainstorm. (2016). Retrieved November 21, 2020, from Association for Psychological Science – APS website

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