Techniques for brainstorming creative ideas

Brainstorming creative ideas is essentially solving a problem by thinking outside of the box. You can use many brainstorming techniques to solve problems that seem impossible to deal with at first glance. Ideally, by approaching a difficult problem with lateral thinking that most brainstorming techniques rely on, you would be able to find creative, sometimes even a little bit crazy, solutions.

There are traditional techniques that have been around for some time, and there are new techniques that gained popularity with the rise of the internet. Below, you will find brainstorming techniques that prove to be the most effective in coming up with creative solutions to problems.

Mind mapping

Mind mapping is one of the most famous brainstorming techniques. It can be adapted to any situation or person, and anyone can use it, from students to executives and entrepreneurs. The reason why it is so popular is its effectiveness combined with its simplicity. All you need to do is get a piece of paper, focus on the topic of your problem, and write words as they come to mind. After, you connect each word and create a mind map that you can use to pave the road to the solution of your problem. It is very effective in creating a systematic plan to deal with any kind of problem. It begins with lateral thinking and ends with creating a linear path between them.

Mind mapping as a technique is highly effective in a group setting, because the members of the group can provide a lot more ideas than a single person would, and it allows each member to participate in finding a solution of a problem. All you need to do is create a smart whiteboard wall, which is highly helpful if the group numbers many members, and make sure every member participates in coming up with ideas and in connecting the ideas in a cohesive map.

The Medici Effect

The Medici effect is another traditional brainstorming technique. In essence, it means looking for patterns and similarities within different fields and topics. You focus on two different problems. Ideally, you would be able to compare a solved problem to an unsolved one, and by looking for similarities and patterns between them, try to find a solution, even if the problems revolve around two very different things.

Like mind mapping and the rest of the methods below, this technique can be adapted for a group setting. A group setting will enable you to analyze more than two different problems and topics, and come up with even more creative solutions than you would have by yourself.

Teleportation method

The teleportation method means attacking a problem by transporting yourself into the future or in the past. For example, how would you have tackled that particular problem two years ago? How would you have tackled it five years ago? What resources would have been available to you then, compared to now?

The second part of this technique is teleporting into the future. How would you tackle this issue five years from now? Alternatively, how would you approach the issue one hundred, or one thousand years from now? Would technology be able to aid you in finding a solution? What resources would be available in thousand years? Would they help in finding a solution?

The first part of the teleportation method makes you see recourses and possible solutions that you did not have in the past, while the second part enables you to discover what resources you need that you do not have. From there, you can proceed to getting what you need and getting a step closer to solving your problem, generating a new idea, or designing a new product.

Role playing

Role-playing is a highly interesting brainstorming technique. As the name suggests, you imagine you are a different person, put yourself into someone else’s shoes and think how that person would approach the problem. In a group setting, role-playing can be quite interesting because members can get to impersonate one another and come up with ideas from a different perspective.

An offshoot of this method is celebrity brainstorming. Members of the group would get to impersonate celebrities, both in and out of the field the problem relates to, and think and present ideas from a celebrity’s point of view. Role-playing brainstorming is very entertaining in nature, but it also allows members of a group to both come up with ideas from a different point of view and gain new perspectives.

Reverse brainstorming

The reverse brainstorming technique means to come up with new ideas and then do exactly the opposite. It is very similar to role-playing, because once again, you would think how other people would deal with the problem at hand, and then do the exact opposite.

It takes thinking out of the box to a new level, because in the end, you will discard the ideas you have come up with and do the opposite. On the other hand, this method can be highly effective if you switch focus. Instead of generating solutions, you start by generating ways with which you will expand the problem, and generate anti-solutions. Then, by doing the opposite, you would be solving the problem.

Prevention brainstorming

Prevention brainstorming means coming up with preventive solutions. In this situation, the problems have not yet occurred, and you are creating ideas that you will use to prevent the problems. Keep in mind that you need to come up with hypothetical worse case scenarios around a central issue for this brainstorming technique to work.

Due to being so specific, prevention brainstorming is not a very adaptable brainstorming method because it asks you to focus on hypothetical scenarios, instead of the actual problem at hand. However, it is very effective in preventing worse case scenarios and creating optimal outcomes as solutions of a problem.

Crossing the gap

Crossing the gap is a similar method to mind mapping, with one difference. Instead focusing on the problem at hand, you begin with detailing where you are now and mark it as point A on the board. Then, you focus on what comes after you have solved the problem and mark it as point B.

Now, you have points A and B on the board and the problem lies within the gap. The next step of this brainstorming technique is having each member of the group, including yourself; think of how to get from point A to point B. Each member should provide ideas and steps how to achieve this. You end the exercise by combining each member’s ideas into a vision of how to solve the problem and achieve the goal.


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