How To Brainstorm Effectively In A Group: 5 Techniques

February 26, 2021 – Kalya Nuñez

Spark your team’s creativity and come up with new and innovative ideas by learning how to brainstorm effectively in a group, even in a virtual setting!

Brainstorming & Its Benefits

Brainstorming is the act of coming up with ideas and developing them in order to find solutions to previously established problems. It is a widely used technique in all types of businesses as it promotes team collaboration and allows participants to explore their creative side, whether it is to design a marketing campaign or come up with a product distribution strategy.
When done correctly, brainstorming can spark innovative ideas in even the most creatively blocked teams. Many creative blocks come from team members feeling self-conscious about their ideas or from not having a space where they can fully focus on the problem. By brainstorming correctly, you remove communication barriers and allow the team to fully engage themselves in the exercise.
In order to create an effective creative thinking space, it is important that participants feel comfortable to share their ideas. Team leaders should make it clear that it is a judgement-free zone where ideas can flow uninterrupted and where each team member can add their own take to find the best possible solution.

Creative Thinking In Virtual Teams

When working remotely, it is incredibly important to build team morale and camaraderie through fun exercises that keep the creative juices flowing. If not, you risk the team becoming unmotivated by their work and developing further communication barriers that can affect the project’s outcome.
Brainstorming sessions allow teams to break out of the routine and increase group collaboration. While some brainstorming techniques are best done in person, there are still tons of methods you can use in a virtual setting. Below, we will be covering some of our top picks of interactive brainstorming techniques and how you can adapt them to your virtual team.
Related: Learn more virtual skills by reading up on how to network virtually and the best ways to stay productive while working remotely!

5 Techniques You Can Use To Learn How To Brainstorm Effectively In A Group

1. Mindmapping

One of the easiest ways to brainstorm is through mind mapping. To create a mind map, you develop a diagram with a main problem or topic at the center. Then, you draw lines with ideas for solutions or related topics all around it. You can create as many extensions as you wish and color-code each one to keep it organized.
Virtually, you could create a mind map on Zoom by using the draw feature and allowing meeting attendees to make their own additions. You can also use online tools like MindMeister.

2. Storyboarding

Storyboarding is great for writers and visual thinkers. With this method, you write a scene following a specific event and create drawings or add pictures to apply a visual aid, much like a comic book. This can be useful when thinking about your customer journey or trying to figure out people’s thought process when navigating through specific circumstances.
To adapt this method for a virtual team, you could create a document on Google Slides where the team can collaborate in real-time by adding the script and images.

3. Six Thinking Hats

The Six Thinking Hats method is a great way to break out of groupthink and view problems from different perspectives. In this technique, each team member is assigned a different hat that represents a unique point of view.
For example, Yellow Hat is optimistic and positive while Black Hat focuses on the negatives and on what could go wrong. With this method, you make sure to cover all the bases and discuss every component of an idea. After each team member is done with their individual discussion, you can combine their observations and collaborate to find a solution that takes all the different points of view into account.
This is a great exercise to do virtually as it does not require any tools, other than somewhere to take notes.

4. Alter Egos

Much like the Six Thinking Hats, the Alter Egos method encourages people to break out of their own perspective. In this exercise, each team member can choose a public figure or fictional character of their preference and try to figure out how that person would solve the established problem.
For example, if I want to know how I can improve a cellphone’s design, I might ask myself “What would Steve Jobs do?”. Each member can play around with their own alter egos and get creative with their solutions. This can be especially useful for groups that feel self-conscious about sharing their personal point of view.
In a remote meeting, this is also an easy exercise to do as does not require any special tools other than somewhere to take notes.

5. Starbursting

Finally, we have starbursting. This method requires us to ask more questions before we find any answers, allowing us to explore the problem in depth. It works by drawing a six-point star and assigning a question to each point. Start with: who, what, why, where, when, and how.
After you have these first six questions, brainstorm even more inquiries about the problem and organize them inside the star according to the “parent question” or category they fall under. Once you have as many as you can come up with, you can begin to answer them with the entire scope in mind.
In a virtual team, you could share a screen in Zoom with the star drawing and the initial six questions and then have the meeting attendees use the draw feature to write down their own.

What is your favorite way to brainstorm?

Now that you know 5 different techniques you can use to brainstorm in a group, it is time to come up with as many fresh ideas as possible! Meet with your team, get creative, and make your vision come to life.
What are your favorite brainstorming techniques?

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