Why Brainstorming is a Powerful Tool for Solving Blockers

Why Brainstorming is a Powerful Tool for Solving Blockers

When you encounter an obstacle or challenge in your work or life, it can feel frustrating and demotivating. You may bang your head against the wall trying the same solutions over and over or feel completely stumped on how to move forward. This is where brainstorming can make a big difference. Brainstorming is a simple yet powerful technique for generating creative solutions and new ideas to overcome blockers.

What is Brainstorming?

Brainstorming is a group creativity technique where participants come together to generate a high quantity of ideas around a specific topic or challenge. The key distinguishing factor of brainstorming compared to just discussing a problem is the focus on pushing for a broad diversity of ideas from all group members. Judgment and analysis of the ideas are deferred until after the brainstorming session. This creates a free, open environment where people feel comfortable sharing unconventional or out-of-the-box suggestions.

Core Principles of Effective Brainstorming

There are four core principles that enable brainstorming sessions to unlock creativity and innovation:

  1. Deferred judgment - No idea is shot down or criticized during the brainstorm. Assessment of ideas comes later. This encourages wild and free thinking.
  2. Quantity over quality - The focus is on generating as many ideas as possible, including strange or silly ones. Unique connections and insight emerge when we think big.
  3. Open participation - All attendees should contribute ideas. Combining perspectives leads to creative fusion.
  4. Alternative thinking - "Thinking outside the box" solutions are encouraged. Imagination and nonlinearity stimulate fresh concepts.

Brainstorming Unlocks Creativity

Research shows brainstorming groups produce more – and often better – ideas compared to individuals working alone. Group dynamics provide energy and motivation that is lacking solo. Exposure to others’ ideas spawns new associations and perspectives. The cross-pollination accelerates creative output.

Studies demonstrate groups generate up to 20% more ideas – and more creative ideas – through collaborative brainstorming versus cumulatively adding up ideas from individual efforts. This synergy is why brainstorming is a go-to technique for advertising agencies, design firms, tech innovators, and other organizations that need creativity on tap.

Effective Brainstorming Techniques

To maximize the firepower of your brainstorming sessions, some useful techniques include:

  • Mind mapping - Capture ideas visually in a nonlinear mind map rather than traditionally linear note-taking. Radiant thinking stimulates new connections.
  • Warm-ups - Get creative juices flowing with 10-15 minute warm up exercises before diving into the main brainstorm. Try visualizing the challenge symbolically or describing it metaphorically.
  • Rotating facilitators - Change facilitators every 15-30 minutes to sustain energy and fresh perspectives.
  • Silent brainwriting - Have participants silently write down ideas for 5 minutes before sharing aloud. This allows shy members to contribute.
  • Opposites and encompasses - Generate ideas that are opposites or expansions of existing ideas to stretch thinking.
  • Card rotation - Pass index cards to rapidly build on others’ ideas anonymously.

Leverage Brainstorming to Break Through Blockers 

Compare creative problem solving to water flowing around obstacles. When encountering a blocker – whether in product design, marketing, business strategy, or our own personal growth – brainstorming expands the potential routes forward by unleashing our imagination. It allows us to be “downstream” from the obstacle and envision the wide-open spaces ahead, rather than beating our head against the blocker itself.

So next time you are faced with a tough creative challenge or roadblock, gather a group and put these brainstorming techniques into action. Keep flowing ideas openly, build on others’ ideas enthusiastically, and refrain from judgment. The synergy can produce unexpected breakthroughs.