Every industry thrives on new ideas. Whether it’s to move onward to greater things or avoid the problems of the past, our creativity is inevitably called upon. It is only natural to feel pressure in such situations. After all, any request to form new ideas is likely to be open-ended – where are you to start when your boss asks you to come up with a new way, any way, of selling your product?
Since stress only suffocates our creative processes, and since the formation of new ideas is such a fundamental part of business, finding the right way to brainstorm is about as good a way to spend your time as any. Here’s five ways to stir up a creative storm in the office:
Identify the Problem(s): Perhaps unsurprisingly, brainstorming is just not very effective if you lack a good grasp of the issues you’re supposed to be solving. There’s not much point having a bat if you don’t have a ball to hit. Spend some time asking yourselves the following questions: What are we trying to do? What will the world look like if we do it? What problems could arise if we do succeed?
Ralph Keeney, a successful consultant and academic, emphasizes the importance of chewing things over in the early stages of brainstorming. Think about what might go wrong before you fully identify your solution and you might save yourself a few backward steps.
Find the Best Space: Equally, you can’t hit the ball without a proper bat. Make sure you and your colleagues are properly situated to produce the best results.
At an individual level, this can be as simple as trying to find the right temperature, keeping yourself calm, etc. For the group, the right environment can be just what’s needed to give yourselves that extra push. Try sitting around a desk to keep yourselves alert. Some companies have even found that leaving random things around on the desk can improve creativity.
Find the Best Group: There’s nothing wrong with brainstorming individually, especially at the early stages, but at some point a group with which you can consider ideas is very likely to be beneficial. And working to make your group more efficient will certainly pay dividends. Ask yourself whether everybody in the group feels they can put forward their ideas, whether new ideas are met with an unwarranted quantity of criticism, and so on.
Question Yourselves: Once you’ve identified the problem, it’s easy to start firing solutions around the room. Set aside some time to ask more questions first. In doing so, you can avoid ending up at the same meeting as a result of unforeseen problems and even further improve upon any ideas you might already have. Devoting time to questions in your brainstorming sessions can make the later answers you offer that bit more fruitful.
Be Prepared to Fail: No matter how good your preparation, failure is always a possibility. Coming up with new ideas is hard. If it wasn’t, everyone would be doing it. It’s how we deal with the stumbles that inevitably occur that matters. New Yorker cartoonists, people at the very peak of their profession, have the vast majority of their offerings rejected. It’s only their determination to go on and keep drawing that separates them from those whose thoughtful scribbles will never grace the New Yorker’s famous pages.
There are numerous ways to improve your creative capacities. Take the time to improve yours and there’s a very good chance you’ll be richly rewarded.