Four different ways to mix up a brainstorm

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While brainstorms are a necessity in most businesses, they can be flawed. From trying to spark creativity at a time when employees are feeling uninspired to the issue of Groupthink, it’s hard to produce original ideas.

Here at Censuswide, we hold at least one brainstorm session a day – either taking our client’s briefs in or thinking of proactive ideas as good practice. However, when you have creative sessions regularly, it can be tricky to find ways to keep the ideas fresh. But fear not, we’re here to help and the following will take you through some different ways to brainstorm that you may or may not already know.

Let’s get fired

This can work as its own session or be brought in when you feel like the brainstorm is slightly stagnating. It does what it says on the tin – you are tasked with thinking of ideas that will get you fired by your client, or perhaps the CEO for in-house teams. Although it might seem counter-intuitive, in our experience, it isn’t. Firstly, it can be very fun and gets people’s creativity going. A quote to perfectly sum this up is our dear friend Albert Einstein: ‘if at first, the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it’.

Secondly, it stops limitations – you can remove restrictions about budget, brand messaging and even whether it’s entirely possible. More often than not, the opposite of the ‘get fired’ idea can work, or it can be scaled down to be more reasonable, or it will spark something else that you can build on. Occasionally, there’s no bringing back an idea, but you’ve all had a laugh nonetheless.

Quickfire round

There are two ways of doing this – the first, go around the table or room and ask people to come up with an idea on-the-spot. Another way of doing this type of brainstorm is to give people a packet of post-it notes, set the brief and ask people to come up with 30 ideas in three minutes. It’s amazing how many usable ideas come out and can be built on from quick-fire rounds. One thing to note is that the key brainstorm rule of no idea is a bad idea is really important in this format.

Word association and marrying themes

If you’ve ever been to our research workshop or survey training, you’ll know that one of our tips is to marry your research idea with a topical news hook. This works in a similar way. First, complete a word association task (using the brief/client as the key word) before separately thinking about news trends and themes. For example, if my client is a florist, I might associate that with Valentine’s Day, I would then marry that with a topical news hook such as sustainability and then build out an idea based on Valentine’s Day and sustainability. It could also be hay fever and Brexit – but the idea is you give yourself something to work off.

Turn it into a mini pitch teams

This type of brainstorm works well for any big pitches (and if you can afford the time). Get your business into various teams, give them the brief and set some budgets. Try putting teams together that have strengths in different areas and work across different sectors to get mixed experience. Then, allocate time for the teams to collaborate and work on a pitch deck in a much shorter time you would usually dedicate to this. Teams then pitch their ideas and deck to the rest of the business, the judge selects a winner and you will often end up with amazing, fully-formed ideas – and at the same time, teams and employees can gain pitch experience.

Make use of your pals at Censuswide

We offer free brainstorming sessions to companies. Quite simply, you can send us a brief (as sparse or detailed as you like), we will take it into a brainstorm and come back with ideas that we think will work. Despite there being no such thing as a free lunch, there IS such a thing as free ideas – we don’t hold you to any obligation to use the idea. So, if you’re interested, let us know at [email protected]

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