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How to constantly generate ideas for your projects!

No two projects are the same: from business needs to the specific communication needs of each channel, brands need customised solutions to their problems. And often, this multitude of challenges needs to be solved as quickly and creatively as possible.
So what do you do when you feel you lack inspiration, the project is clearly complex and you don’t even know where to start?

At Minio, when we are in such a situation, we turn to ideation processes: never the same, their purpose is to make you look at specific problems from different perspectives and ask the questions that matter.

That’s why we’re offering you a series of articles on “Methods and tips to help you find inspiration when it feels like permanent Out-of-Office”, you know what I mean?

How you can improve your brainstorming (spoiler alert: coffee talk isn’t really brainstorming)

The idea of brainstorming was introduced by Alex F. Osborn and had a very clear purpose: to create a creative environment in which participants could quickly generate as many ideas as possible to solve a problem. It is generally organised with a fixed duration and has a large number of participants, between 6 and 12, including one organiser.

If you are an organiser, it is very important not to get actively involved in generating ideas: you need a group to generate them precisely because you want to discover perspectives other than your own. The organiser’s role is primarily to ensure that they develop an environment free of creative restrictions for participants, but also to guide the discussion, ensure that the rules are followed and note any ideas that arise.

What are the basic principles of brainstorming:

  • You have to generate a large volume of ideas without worrying about their quality: in a brainstorming there are no bad ideas. Only after the brainstorming is over does the organiser decide which ones are suitable for the project and which are not.
  • Criticism of ideas is not encouraged at this stage: it is important that all participants are relaxed and can feel they have space to express their creativity and make their ideas heard. The more mental barriers you manage to remove, the closer you will be to finding solutions that others have failed to think of.
  • Any idea is welcomed, no matter how unusual it may seem: the aim of the method is to discover new, unique ways to solve the problem. If you want ordinary ideas, a brainstorming is not what you need.
  • Participants can take, combine and transform each other’s ideas from the brainstorming: it’s a collaborative process that integrates everyone’s professional strengths with each individual’s unique perspectives. It’s important to make sure participants understand that it’s not a competition of ideas.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But how many times have you sat down with a few colleagues in a meeting room, all hopeful, only to realize after 30 minutes that you’ve ended up talking about TikTok trends that in no way are related to your brief? As an organiser, it’s really important to pay attention to a few things to make sure your brainstorming doesn’t turn into a fancy coffee debate.

How to organise a really good brainstorm:

  1. Give them some time to think: it is important to give them some information before brainstorming so that they can get to know the topic.
  2. Create the right atmosphere: from the meeting room, to small warm-up exercises, it’s important to manage disconnecting the participants from any problem other than the one you need to solve.
  3. Set the purpose of the meeting: you need to make sure that everyone is focused on solving one problem. In general, it works best if you present the problem once more and announce what deliverables you want to achieve.
  4. Moderate the meeting: make sure that all participants have space to speak, in an equal proportion as possible. There will always be one person who is very enthusiastic about the project and the process, but it is important to hear everyone’s ideas.
  5. Encourage and appreciate all types of contribution: whatever their form, from a drawing to an HL or even a YouTube video, they are all elements that can help you build a better idea. And having a positive attitude will encourage participants to get involved even more.
  6. Encourages unconventional or lateral thinking: there are many ways to solve a problem. If you want a solution like everyone else’s, a communication research is more suitable for you.
  7. Write down any ideas, even the abstract ones: they can help you later, or even during brainstorming, to create new, unconventional links.
  8. Keep them informed after the brainstorming is over: if you want your participants to be as creative and enthusiastic in the future, it is important to keep them part of the project and let them know what conclusions you have drawn.

Focus on creativity and variety

You can tell if you’ve come out of a good brainstorm when you feel you have too many good ideas and don’t know what to do with them. From this point you can do 2 things: you can either hold another brainstorming where you choose them together and develop them or you can apply different methods to generate solutions to implement the ideas. In the next article on Minio Content Hub we will discuss our favourite tool for delineating suitable project ideas from less suitable ones, which can be used in both situations.

Sum-up brainstorming

  • How it works: exercise for 6-12 people that creates the perfect space for generating unique, innovative ideas that are different from others
  • When to use it: when the problem is clear and you need creative approaches to it
  • Type of exercise: quantitative generation of unusual ideas, focused on solving a problem

Creativity and the ability to think are muscles you need to keep in constant action. You’ll probably have your share of brainstorms that derail into discussions, but once you find that sweet spot between the creativity flying freely around the room and the structure of the meeting, you’ll be able to consistently generate good ideas for your projects. In the upcoming weeks you’ll find a series of exercises here, on the Minio Content Hub, that will help you channel your creative energy towards solving any challenges your projects may pose!