Brainstorming: what It is, why it is useful, and practical examples

What is brainstorming? It is a group technique for finding a solution to a given problem in which participants freely propose ideas without order and filters. The proposals are collected and then analyzed at a later stage. This method aims at sharing cues and ideas to generate creative thinking and encourages team members to collaborate.

Brainstorming can be used in different areas, e.g., work or school. In this article, I will talk about its use, especially in the corporate context, and give you practical examples in the digital sphere, as it has proven to be a successful tool for team building and marketing strategies.

what brainstorm means

This creative technique is very popular and straightforward to achieve; however, it includes several aspects, methods, and steps to be followed for a successful session. I will explain in detail:

  • What Brainstorming means
  • What it is used for, and what the benefits are
  • How to do an idea-gathering session in 3 steps
  • Practical examples of Brainstorming digitally. 

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The meaning of Brainstorming

The term brainstorming originates from the union of the words “brain” and “storm”, which literally translates as brain storm. This expression is used precisely to indicate a mode of group work that aims to bring out as many ideas and solutions as possible for a given problem in a given time frame. It originated more than 400 years ago in the East and arrived in Europe around 1938, thanks to advertising executive Alex Faickney Osborn, who developed a new group discussion mode.

The basis of brainstorming is a game of creative association of ideas. Each group member must be an active participant and free to express any thought or opinion; the basic rule is not to judge any proposal but, on the contrary, to eliminate any prejudice or mental scheme. Within the team, the presence of a moderator is fundamental, whose objective is to guide the session, stimulate the creativity of each participant and later select the best solutions.

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What Brainstorming is for and its benefits

As I mentioned, brainstorming is used in various fields, especially at the business level. This technique is an efficient tool for optimizing business processes. Indeed, the free flow of ideas within a group leads to innovative solutions on the one hand and promotes team building on the other.

Teamwork makes each individual more motivated, stimulating creativity and the emergence of new ideas. The closer the team is, the more solutions will be brought to the table.

Brainstorming is especially useful in all those cases where one cannot find a solution and has the famous ‘writer’s block’; this technique was created precisely to overcome this problem. By eliminating criticism and judgment, each participant will feel free to unleash his or her creativity.

What counts is not the quality of the ideas proposed but the quantity; even the weakest solutions must be considered to find the one that best fits the problem. 

  • In summary, what are the benefits of a brainstorming session?
  • A large number of original ideas are quickly produced.
  • Creativity is encouraged.
  • Every member can speak freely, everyone is on an equal footing, and no one is favored.
  • It helps to break out of one’s mental schemes and classical research methods.
  • It encourages teamwork.
  • Eliminate the competition.
  • It promotes listening.
  • It stimulates the reworking of one’s ideas by exploiting the contribution of others.

How to Brainstorm in 3 steps

The key to successful brainstorming is a well-defined organization.

First, it is necessary to be clear about the problem to be solved. The second step is to choose who will be part of the team and be involved in the discussion. Usually, a session has a group of 3 to 10 participants; it is preferable to create a heterogeneous team because the more different minds are put together, the better the chances of finding an original solution.

initial stage brainstorm

Consider gender, age, work hierarchy, nationality, language, and skills.

Then you need to identify the key figure, i.e., a moderator who will give the starting points and guide the whole session. Another aspect to keep in mind is the session duration: establish the timing and any breaks in advance; staying focused on the objective is essential. Finally, it would help if you chose a quiet place, away from distractions and equipped with tables and chairs. Remember a pen and paper for all participants.

Let us now look in detail at how to do brainstorming in 3 simple steps.

1) Initial phase

In this first phase, the participants come together, and the moderator has the task of explaining clearly and directly the problem to be solved, the subject matter. Making sure to provide all the information necessary to understand the problem thoroughly and allowing the group members time to formulate questions or express doubts and concerns is crucial.

2) Divergent phase

Once all participants are clear about the objective, the first real creative moment of brainstorming begins. In the divergent phase, all members give free rein to their thinking and come up with their ideas: this is when the brainstorming begins.

All ideas must be considered and noted without distinction or prejudice. A successful session requires all members to participate actively without fear of being laughed at, all ideas are valid, and even those seemingly less inherent can pave the way to a solution. At this stage, the moderator’s task is to give each member time to present their thoughts, avoiding overlapping with one another. Remember, it is important not to comment on the views of others but rather to try to listen to others and use their ideas as a starting point.

3) Converging phase

In this last phase of brainstorming, the collected ideas are analyzed, and an attempt is made to select the best ones and discard the others. A method often used in this step is the process of exclusion. Whereas in the previous phase, one lets one’s thoughts flow freely, a more critical and analytical approach is now required to arrive at a decisive solution.

The entire team’s participation in analyzing the various proposals is also crucial at this time. This opens up a phase of discussion and clarification, in which the proposals are worked out in more detail. The criteria to be considered are feasibility and compatibility with the problem.

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Practical examples of brainstorming in the digital world 

The fields of application of brainstorming are endless; within a company, it can be used, for example, to develop new products. Indeed, a product that stands out on the market needs unique and original features, and a brainstorming session is often necessary to encourage creativity.

Another example of using this technique at the business level is an event and project management or solving business problems.

The use of brainstorming is especially crucial in the most creative fields, such as digital, marketing, and communication. In these fields, it is essential to be open-minded and imaginative to develop original ideas. Moreover, the success of a project often depends on teamwork, and this technique improves dialogue within the team.

A practical use of brainstorming in the digital marketing sector is related to the profession of Social Media Manager, for example. A brainstorming session can prove decisive when this figure has to decide which channels to use and what original content to propose.

Conclusions and final advice

As you may have guessed, brainstorming is a versatile technique that can be applied in many different areas, and with good organization, it is easy to implement and can lead to great results.

Thanks to this creative research game, you can improve company projects, create a close-knit team and come up with winning ideas. Its strength lies in pushing people out of their comfort zone and encouraging them to problem-solve.

Now that you are clear on what brainstorming is, what it is for, and how to do it, my advice is to put it into practice in any field, whether business or personal.

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