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Brainstorm Technique #5 – Forced Connections

Brainstorm Technique: Forced Connections

The brainstorm technique known as forced connections is designed to take two unrelated concepts and forge a relationship between them. In this process, the brainstorm group is usually divided into subgroups, which can be as small as two people. This group picks two topics at random and is challenged to brainstorm a way to connect them together.

Ideal Activity For:
branding, concept generation, event planning

Brainstorm Tools:
4-6 20”x30” easel pads
20+ small pieces of paper (for forced connection topics)
2-3 small cups or other containers
permanent markers

# of Participants:
4 – 10+

How To Brainstorm With Forced Connections:
Pre-Brainstorm:

  1. Review the Brainstorm Bill of Rights
  2. Review the Brainstorm Prep Checklist and answer the appropriate questions
  3. Pre-brainstorm forced connection topics. To do this, begin by creating two or more topics. For example, if the subject of the brainstorm was dog food, two possible topics could be “likable traits about dogs” and “benefits of the dog food.” Think of words or phrases that match these two categories and write them down on small pieces of paper. Separate the ideas by topic and place them in a container together.
  4. Gather remaining supplies and book a conference room (if needed)

Brainstorm Intro: (approx. time varies by experience level)

  1. Review Brainstorm Bill of Rights with participants
  2. Establish the goal of the brainstorm by discussing the BrainBrief™
  3. Kick-off the meeting with an Icebreaker (if needed)

Brainstorm Part 1: (approx. 10-20 minutes)

  1. Divide your brainstorm group into smaller teams of 2-3 people, and allow them to pick one topic from each of your categories.
  2. Give the groups a pre-determined time to create a connection between the topics drawn. If, after a few minutes, a group is still struggling to create a connection between the words they’ve drawn, allow them to put one of their words back into the container and draw a new word.
  3. Encourage groups to record their thoughts on a piece of paper that will be turned in at the end of the brainstorm.
  4. Repeat this exercise as time and available brainstorm topics permit. Feel free to reorganize the groups between each round.

Brainstorm Part 2: (approx. 10-30 minutes)

  1. Ask each group to share their ideas with the larger group. Each group should start by revealing the two starter topics they received as inspiration.
  2. Record the shared ideas on easel pads.
  3. Invite other brainstorm participants to build as thoughts occur to them.

Post-Brainstorm:

  1. Thank all the participants for their input
  2. Select concepts for further development  (can be done alone or as part of the group)
  3. Be sure to capture all the notes and take them with you. It’s often easiest to take digital photos of easel pads for reference at a later date.

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Brainstorm Technique #4 – Bridge Building

Brainstorm Technique: Bridge Building
You’ve identified where you are. You’ve identified where you want to be. But you need to figure out how to get from here to there. This brainstorm technique is designed to help you build a bridge from where you are to where you want to go. Whether you accomplish the task with one big idea or develop several smaller ideas that combine to cross the span, you’ll finish your brainstorm session with a variety of methods that will accomplish your goal.

Ideal Activity For:
mid and long-range planning, rebranding, product or business relaunches

Brainstorm Tools:
2-3 packs of oversized sticky notes (3”x5” or larger)
permanent markers

# of Participants:
1 – 10+

How To Brainstorm With Bridge Building:
Pre-Brainstorm:

  1. Review the Brainstorm Bill of Rights
  2. Review the Brainstorm Prep Checklist and answer the appropriate questions
  3. Gather supplies and book a conference room (if needed)

Brainstorm Intro: (approx. time varies by experience level)

  1. Review Brainstorm Bill of Rights with participants
  2. Establish the goal of the brainstorm by discussing the BrainBrief™
  3. Kick-off the meeting with an Icebreaker (if needed)

Brainstorm Part 1: (approx. 30-45 minutes)

  1. Begin by identifying the starting and ending point of your bridge and recording them on two separate sticky notes.
  2. Place the sticky notes a distance apart on the wall and invite the brainstorm participants to begin building a bridge between the starting point and ending point.
  3. As participants call out ideas, record each idea on its own sticky note.
  4. If the brainstorm group begins to lose momentum, ask questions to lead the group’s effort, such as:
    • This idea is a good start, how can we build on it to get us closer to our goal?
    • Rather than starting at the beginning, how can we build backwards from the ending point?
    • What’s something you always thought the company should do that might accomplish our goal here today?

 Brainstorm Part 2: (approx. 10-15 minutes)

  1. Begin Part 2 by inviting the group to group together sticky notes that feature similar tactics or are dependant upon each other to accomplish the end goal of the brainstorm. Invite brainstorm participants to take an active role in the discussion of which notes belong together, you might even invite them to move notes around the wall together.
  2. Now that the notes are grouped together tactically, it’s time to sort them again using another criteria. In this second phase of Part 2, sort the ideas based on timeline. Group together ideas that are actionable now, in the next year and beyond one year. [NOTE: If ideas work together to accomplish the goal of your brainstorm, it is important to keep them grouped together in this phase. For example, if one idea in the set can’t be accomplished in the next year move the whole set of notes to that category.]

 Post-Brainstorm:

  1. Thank all the participants for their input
  2. Select concepts for further development  (can be done alone or as part of the group)
  3. Be sure to capture all the notes and take them with you. It’s often easiest to take digital photos of the sticky note groupings for reference at a later date.

Get the WEEKLY update about brainstorming and creative thinking from BrainBoltz.com.


 

Please note: we talk personal infortmaion very seriously and would never sell or distribute your personal information.

Brainstorm Technique #3 – Free Writing

Brainstorm Technique: Free Writing
Free writing is a time-tested technique for brainstorming unique and interesting ideas. The main difference between free writing and a lot of other brainstorm techniques, is that free writing doesn’t typically deliver a wide-ranging quantity of ideas. Instead, it delivers a great deal of quantity on ONE specific subject. As a result, free writing is a phenomenal brainstorming tool when you’ve already identified a specific subject and the purpose of your brainstorm is identifying how to bring it to life.

Ideal Activity For:
Idea generation, Idea refinement, Story development, Brand voice exploratory, Insight generation

Brainstorm Tools:
Letter size sheets of paper & pens (enough for everyone in the meeting)
2-3 20” x 30” (or larger) easel pads / dry erase board
permanent markers / dry erase markers
Oven timer

# of Participants:
1 – 6

How To Brainstorm With Free Writing:
Pre-Brainstorm:

  1. Review the Brainstorm Bill of Rights
  2. Review the Brainstorm Prep Checklist and answer the appropriate questions
  3. Gather supplies and book a conference room (if needed)

Brainstorm Intro: (approx. time varies by experience level)

  1. Review Brainstorm Bill of Rights with participants
  2. Establish the goal of the brainstorm by discussing the BrainBrief™
  3. Kick-off the meeting with an Icebreaker (if needed)

Brainstorm Part 1: (approx. 5-10 minutes per free writing subject)

  1. Start with a simple question or thought that is related to the purpose of your brainstorm. For example, in a brainstorm about dog food, the question could be “Tell me about your earliest positive memory of a dog.”
  2. Set the oven timer to a pre-determined time limit.
  3. Invite brainstorm participants to write about their answer to your question. Here’s the catch. They can’t stop writing until the oven timer goes off. It doesn’t matter what they write, as long as they keep writing for the duration of the brainstorm session about the question they were asked.

Brainstorm Part 2: (approx. 5-10 minutes)

  1. Ask participants to pass their free writing assignment to their left (or the right, you decide) [NOTE: IF you’re utilizing this technique alone, take some time away from your free writing and come back to it with fresh eyes rather than passing your assignment to a partner.]
  2. Invite the new reader to take some time and digest the free writing assignment they’ve received. Their task is to underline any content they find unique or interesting AND to provide a one sentence summary of the entire story.

Brainstorm Part 3: (approx. 20-30 minutes)

  1. Each brainstorm participant reads out their summary to the group and identifies any copy points they found unique or interesting.
  2. Record the summary sentence and interesting points on an easel pad.
  3. As a group dissect and build on the content on the easel pad. Ask questions such as: Are there any insights here that can help us better our brainstorm topic? Is there a common theme that all the free writing assignments all share that we can apply to our brainstorm topic?

Post-Brainstorm:

  1. Thank all the participants for their input
  2. Select concepts for further development  (can be done alone or as part of the group)
  3. Be sure to capture all the notes and take them with you. It’s often easiest to take digital photos of the boards and notes for reference at a later date.  Be sure to collect all the free writing assignments. [NOTE: It is important to collect these pages and review them on your own. As the brainstorm leader, you may be able to collect additional insights that were overlooked by some of the brainstorm participants.]

 

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Please note: we talk personal infortmaion very seriously and would never sell or distribute your personal information.

Brainstorm Technique #2 – Mind Mapping

Screen shot from Bubbl.us -

 

Brainstorm Technique: Mind Mapping

A mind map is a method for drawing inspiration from a single word or concept to quickly inspire a web of “related” words. This web grows larger and more diverse at each level. As it expands to include a broader range of words and thoughts, it will create previously unexplored ideas and concepts. The key is to go quickly and write down any word that comes to mind. You never know where a word will lead, so it’s important to avoid editing yourself.

Ideal Activity For:
Idea generation, creative problem solving, business evolution or expansion

Brainstorm Tools:
4-6 20” x 30” (or larger) easel pads / dry erase board
permanent markers / dry erase markers

# of Participants:
1 – 15+

How To Brainstorm With A Mind Map:
Pre-Brainstorm:

  1. Review the Brainstorm Bill of Rights
  2. Review the Brainstorm Prep Checklist and answer the appropriate questions
  3. Gather needed supplies and book a conference room (if needed)

Brainstorm Intro: (approx. time varies by experience level)

  1. Review Brainstorm Bill of Rights with participants
  2. Establish the goal of the brainstorm by discussing the BrainBrief™
  3. Kick-off the meeting with an Icebreaker (if needed)

Brainstorm Part 1: (approx. 5-10 minutes per word/concept)

  1. Start with a clean easel pad or whiteboard with the central word or concept written in the middle of the board with a circle or a box drawn around it
    • This can also be performed online using a free service like http://www.bubbl.us/ (See below for a screen capture of a sample brainstorm)
  2. As participants shout out related words, draw a line that connects the thought to the root of inspiration
  3. Keep building the web outwards in all directions (see demonstration below)
  4. If there is a lull in activity, ask questions to spur additional conversation such as:
    • What is it about [INSERT THOUGHT] that makes you think of [WORD THAT INSPIRED IT]?
    • I’ve noticed some similar thoughts up here. What characteristics do these thoughts all seem to share?
    • If I said [INSERT THOUGHT] to you, what’s the first thing you would say back?
  5. Based on some of the farther out suggestions on the board, invite the group to provide solutions to the aim of the brainstorm using this inspirational foundation
  6. Highlight words that the group seems to show excitement for

Brainstorm Part 2: (approx. 10 minutes)

  1. Analyze the web for unique and interesting connections and use weighted voting to select the groups favorite options
  2. Ask each member to vote for their top 3 favorite ideas on the board. Instruct them to give their favorite idea 3 votes, their second favorite idea 2 votes and their third favorite idea 1 vote
  3. Tally up the votes and record the top vote getting ideas on a new easel pad
  4. Use this list of keywords as thought starters for the Part 3

Brainstorm Part 3: (approx. 5-10 minutes per concept)

  1. Begin a new mind map utilizing the keywords identified in Part 2
  2. Starting from these “out there” ideas begin to build back to the problem/opportunity that you’re brainstorming
  3. To build a bridge back to the original aim, ask questions such as:
    • How could we implement this idea today?
    • What technological or other obstacles are preventing us from accomplishing this today?
    • How does this idea fit with what we know about our key customers?
    • What’s the smallest change we can make to align this idea with those insights?
  4. Record all the ideas generated on a new easel pad
  5. As a group select the favorite ideas that closely align aim, challenges and opportunities laid out in your BrainBrief
    • Thank all the participants for their input
    • Select concepts for further development  (can be done alone or as part of the group)
    • Be sure to capture all the notes and take them with you. It’s often easiest to take digital photos of the boards and notes for reference at a later date.
    • Collect ideas that can be implemented now on one page
    • Collect ideas that will require further effort, research or brainstorming on another list

Post-Brainstorm:

  1. Thank all the participants for their input
  2. Select concepts for further development  (can be done alone or as part of the group)
  3. Be sure to capture all the notes and take them with you. It’s often easiest to take digital photos of the boards and notes for reference at a later date.

 

Get the WEEKLY update about brainstorming and creative thinking from BrainBoltz.com.


 

Please note: we talk personal infortmaion very seriously and would never sell or distribute your personal information.

Brainstorm Technique #1 – Magazine Pull

Brainstorm Technique: Magazine Pull
Sometimes the easiest first step in defining who you are is defining who you aren’t. In this exercise, your brainstorm group will use magazines as inspiration to answer two simple questions. First, who are we? Second, who are we NOT? Using images of people, products and places from a variety of magazines, create a visual representation of what your product, organization or group aspires to be and NOT to be. The facilitator provides the group with enough magazines and scissors to go around. One posterboard is identified as “IS” and one posterboard is identified as “IS NOT.” Participants pull images and words from their magazines that answer those two simple questions.

Ideal Activity For:
Branding identity , Brand voice, Defining a consumer target

Brainstorm Tools:
4-6 20” x 30” (or larger) posterboards
2-3 magazines per person
scissors
tape
easel pad
permanent markers
# of Participants:
1 – 15+

How To Brainstorm With A Magazine Pull:
Pre-Brainstorm:

  1. Review the Brainstorm Bill of Rights
  2. Review the Brainstorm Prep Checklist and answer the appropriate questions
  3. Gather needed supplies and book a conference room (if needed)

Brainstorm Intro: (approx. time varies by experience level)

  1. Review Brainstorm Bill of Rights with participants
  2. Establish the goal of the brainstorm by discussing the BrainBrief™
  3. Kick-off the meeting with an Icebreaker (if needed)

Brainstorm Part 1: (approx. 20-30 minutes)

  1. Distribute the magazines and scissors to the brainstorm participants
  2. Invite participants to flip through the magazines they’ve been given and cut out images, words or anything else they feel moves the group closer to or further away from accomplishing the mission of the brainstorm
  3. Demonstrate the activity by finding an image or phrase in a magazine and posting it to the appropriate board
  4. Announce why the item you chose does or does not represent the mission you’re trying to accomplish and invite each participant to do the same for items they select
  5. Capture keywords that participants are using to describe the item they cut out on an easel pad

Brainstorm Part 2: (approx. 10 minutes)

  1. Turn the groups attention to the easel pad filled with keywords from Part 1
  2. Ask each member of the group to mark the 5 words or phrases from the list that they think best accomplishes the mission of the brainstorm
  3. Capture the top vote getting “IS” and “IS NOT” keywords on a new easel pad
  4. Use this list of keywords as thought starters for the Part 3

Brainstorm Part 3: (approx. 20-30 minutes)

  1. Ask the group to further explore the “IS” keywords identified in Part 2
  2. Choose a word from the list and ask the group to answer a few simple questions
    • Is the characteristic unique to us?
    • Do the people we’re speaking to recognize this as one of our characteristics?
    • What would we look like if this was true in every aspect of our business?
    • How do we maximize the value of this characteristic?
  3. Perform this exercise for each of the keywords
  4. Record all the ideas generated on a new easel pad
  5. As a group select the favorite ideas that closely allign aim, challenges and opportunities laid out in your BrainBrief
    • Collect ideas that can be implemented now on one page
    • Collect ideas that will require further effort, research or brainstorming on another list

 Post-Brainstorm:

  1. Thank all the participants for their input
  2. Select concepts for further development  (can be done alone or as part of the group)
  3. Be sure to capture all the notes and take them with you. It’s often easiest to take digital photos of the boards and notes for reference at a later date.

Get the WEEKLY update about brainstorming and creative thinking from BrainBoltz.com.


 

Please note: we talk personal infortmaion very seriously and would never sell or distribute your personal information.