Brainstorming is a problem-solving technique used by a group of people whose object is to generate a torrent of spontaneous ideas (or even words) relating to a specific objective that needs to be met. The rules? There are none. Brainstorming works because participants are encouraged not to hold back, even if they think their idea is far-fetched, embarrassing, or downright crazy. The theory is that we’re all capable of motivating each other, just using words, to inspired decisions or action points.
Once the preserve of media types (the term was invented by an advertising executive), brainstorming has since found its way into management-speak and finance circles. You might find yourself brainstorming the best way to re-jig a particular procedure or implement a new system. Some of the most creative annual company reports – creative as in design, not figures – are the result of brainstorming, and you can be sure accountants were in there, contributing nuggets of genius.
Because of its nature, a good brainstorming session will always produce more ideas than can possibly be applied to the problem its participants are attempting to solve. This gives you the chance to shine – make copious notes and take away any selected ideas (yes, even the most elaborate ones) you think could be used or adapted elsewhere in your job or team. Remember, there’s no copyright on ideas – but keep it real and acknowledge where your inspiration comes from. Let nothing go to waste.