How to Use Brainstorming for Problem-Solving

We face problems and conflicts every day. How do you respond when faced with difficulties?

One of the most common and creative problem-solving skills is called Brainstorming. You have probably heard the word used in seminars and meetings in an effort to bring about a consensus.

Being common doesn’t mean it is unimportant. It works, and works well, which is why it is often used. It is an important skill for you to master. This is a valuable tool for your problem-solving toolkit.

It is not hard to brainstorm, but it can be difficult to brainstorm correctly. Why? Because we often have a natural tendency to edit and censor ourselves while we are thinking. That is the opposite of brainstorming! Be aware of this as you master the brainstorming skill.

Here is how the brainstorming process works:

1.) Gather the Necessary Tools

If you are brainstorming by yourself (yes, you can do this alone, but it is better to do it with other people), gather a notebook and pen or a computer with an open document for typing. Use post-it notes on the wall, orbBetter yet, set up a whiteboard.

2.) Clearly State The Problem

Write out the problem, clearly and simple,; no extra qualifications, addendums, or anything else that would muddy the issue. Ideally, make it a single, short sentence that states what exactly, is the problem.

3.) Set A Timer and Start Writing Down Ideas

The timer is an essential part of the process and helps to maintain focus. The length of time to brainstorm depends on your group, the problem, and how much time you have. For some, 5-10 minutes might be enough if you are working by yourself or it is a simple problem. For more difficult situations, you may need 10-20 minutes, or more. You decide what your team can handle.

With the timer running, write down every idea – yes, everyone. This is not the time to be negative or censor any ideas. Run with the flow and the process.

4.) Review Each Idea

Once all the ideas have been submitted, it is time to determine which ones are viable. Review each idea as a group. Explore the possibilities of each one.

That is all there is to brainstorming! The difficulty lies in being open to new ideas and possibilities, making sure not to overthink, censor, or explore the ideas until the proper time. Some of the best ideas in the past have come out of brainstorming sessions.

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