Brainstorming has become a household term as it is being used everywhere—in school, in the office, and among friends. It is an effective and efficient way to gather ideas for solving a problem, involving a facilitator and a group. Brainstorming is a popular method because participants can express their ideas in a free-thinking environment where there is no bias or judgment.
Rules of brainstorming
Just because brainstorming has become a common practice, that doesn’t make it unstructured. Like other methods of idea-generation, brainstorming has rules that participants and facilitators should follow to yield positive results. Here are the eight rules that should be observed by every team so that they can generate the best ideas.
- Set the time limit. Brainstorming sessions shouldn’t be too short or too long. Depending on how complex the problem is, the length of 15 to 60 minutes is good enough.
- Encourage members to give weird or wacky ideas. The point of brainstorming is to get as many ideas as possible and this includes even weird ideas or far-fetched ones. There should be no filtering at this point yet and every idea shared should be considered. Brainstorming should not welcome statements like ‘too impossible’, ‘too weird’, ‘too expensive’, and other discouragements.
- Go for quantity. This rule is related to the previous one because ‘quantity breeds quality’. The more ideas there are, the more choices or options the team has. Filtering should happen later on where the most important or voted ones are left.
- Have a target problem. In brainstorming, the target problem leads to the discussion. Though all ideas are to be accepted, the participants have a guide as to what they should be thinking about.
- Do not judge. It is easy to judge a participant’s suggestion. But teams should remember that a successful brainstorming session only happens in a judgment-free and free-thinking environment.
- Expand other’s ideas. Participants need not come up with entirely new and original ideas. They can also expand other members’ ideas through the process of association.
- Be visual. People are naturally visual beings so having colors and diagrams are helpful when brainstorming.
- One conversation at a time. Brainstorming means allowing everyone to speak and be heard.
Brainstorming with a remote team
The kind of brainstorming most people know about is co-location brainstorming where every participant and the facilitator are in one place. However, this activity can also be done even when the participants are remotely located. For example, a remote project management team may still come together virtually and come up with good results. And this is done through project management software like Trello.
Trello is an online collaboration tool that lets users manage workflows, create tasks and assign them to members, and set their due dates. But more than that, Trello can also be used as a tool for brainstorming. Its boards, lists, and cards are very useful in taking note of ideas and participants’ preferences.
How to make a good brainstorm in Trello?
Brainstorming in Trello need not be difficult and complex. Here are the steps and some tips on how to brainstorm successfully.
- Get a general topic or theme ready. Having this ready to present saves a lot of time.
- Start a video meeting with the participants. Facilitators can use any of the various communication or call apps like Skype where they can brainstorm.
- Make sure everyone uses Trello. Facilitators can create a Trello board and add his teammates onto the board. There must be an explanation or introduction about the topic to be brainstormed.
- Create lists. There are so many ways to create lists, depending on how broad or narrow the topic is. However, the most common thing done by most teams is creating a list for each person. As new ideas start to come together, teams may opt to create more lists.
- Begin brainstorming. Everyone should be given a chance to share his or her idea and each idea should have a card placed in the appropriate list. The members of the board can freely move the cards around or comment on them.
- Narrow down the ideas. At this point in co-location brainstorming, the members cast their vote by simply making a dot on the post-it of the idea they like. But in this Trello brainstorm, members can add themselves to the cards of their choice. This is done by hovering the mouse above the card and pressing the space bar.
Using Disruptive Brainstorming
Disruptive brainstorming is believed to be a faster way to get fresher and newer ideas from participants. It is a technique that aims to disrupt the neuro-pathways of the members in order to help them come up with new ideas.
It is not a simple process but it is usually started with basic brainstorming, followed by several rounds of more brainstorming. In these succeeding rounds, the facilitator introduces constraints that force the brain out of its neuro-pathways.
So with Trello, disruptive brainstorming is started by making a board with lists for every round of brainstorming. Participants build out the lists with various ideas. Then, after the first few rounds, the facilitator introduces a disrupt card that may say ‘humor’ or ‘surprise’. These cards will guide the next round of brainstorming.
Advantage of using Trello for brainstorming
With remote teams becoming a growing trend, project management software like Trello is a great tool. Teams don’t anymore have to be physically present in one place to generate ideas. Trello provides the tools for creating boards, lists, and cards where the ideas can be recorded.
Though Trello is already useful for efficient project management, Bridge24 for Trello can enhance its features for a smoother workflow. It bridges the reporting and exporting gap for Trello through its built-in charts like pie, horizontal and vertical bar, doughnut, and polar charts. Trello is always better with Bridge24.