Coming up with great ideas can be like trying to find a light switch in the dark. You might step on a Lego, or walk straight to the switch and instantly light up the room. A few simple tips and tricks can open your mind, unleash a brainstorming hurricane — and create a lightning bolt of illuminating ideas.
Be ready for anything. Yes, anything. If you go into a brainstorming session open to all the possibilities, you may not get the "big idea" for your latest ad campaign, but rather find the perfect way to create a word-of-mouth buzz your marketing dollars only dreamed of. If you're brainstorming ways to increase revenue and stumble across a better inventory procedure, that session of brainstorming was a success.
Say "Yes!" to new ideas. Taking chances is a risk, and it is definitely scary. But if you don't take chances, chances are good that you're missing out on something. Have the courage to say "yes" even when it makes you a little nervous. Saying "yes" doesn’t necessarily mean you have to make the idea work at all costs, but if it piques your interest, give it a chance. See where it takes you.
It's okay to say "No." If the opportunity isn't right — if you can't enter the market competitively, you can say "no." Apple, one of the most innovative companies in the world, says "no" to amazing opportunities because they know where they are going and what they want to accomplish. Have an open mind. Say "yes" to risk. But only when ideas follow your corporate strategy and help achieve your goals.
Be brave. The only constant in life is change, so you might as well be the driving force behind it. Don't let circumstances control your business. Create your own opportunities and be the change you fear.
Don't overfill your brain. If you go into a session worried about deadlines, proposal components, employee problems and every other bit of office minutia, there is no place for creativity. Go for a walk, take fifteen minutes to meditate, enjoy a long lunch outside of the office. Whatever it takes to slow down your spinning thoughts, do it. You should go into brainstorming session refreshed and ready.
Pick and choose your team. Not every idea you come up with in a brainstorming session is a winner and not everyone is the right fit for brainstorming. Team members who get too caught up in the details of execution may not be the best fit for the idea brainstorming session. Play to the teams strengths and pick creative, excited, energized members to be a part of your brainstorming sessions.
Every idea is a good idea. Write down every idea, flesh out the ones that fit, and remember, there is no such thing as a dumb idea in a brainstorming session — just ideas that aren't right for now. Quantity and not quality here; you can easily bank great ideas for other projects down the road.
Check your ego at the door. The best way to accomplish nothing in a brainstorming session is to expect credit and kudos for coming up with great ideas — or to grumble and criticize others. Kids come up with the best ideas because they aren’t concerned that their idea will be considered "stupid" or "silly." They are the masters of unabashed creativity and able to see unique possibilities in everyday items. Leave egos at the door. Come in with a sense of fun, go back to grade school and find your spark!
Every brainstorming session has the opportunity to create spectacular experiences (and results) for your company. Go in ready for anything and remember that a little caffeine, sugar and positive enforcement can only help get the right energy flowing.