The generation of new ideas is vital for the success of any organization, whether it is a business trying to come up with new product ideas or a non-profit organization trying to raise more funds for its cause. Ideas can come from many places and group brainstorming sessions can be one such avenue when done correctly. While you may think of brainstorming as just shouting out any idea that comes to your mind, it usually needs to be a lot more involved than that to come up with ideas that may actually be good. When brainstorming in a group, there are certain techniques that may help generate a greater number of quality ideas.Role Playing

Role playing can be a great way to help people take a new perspective on the problem at hand as well as eliminate inhibitions that they about may feel sharing ideas out of fear of judgment or criticism. To execute this exercise, people in the group adopt different roles and offer ideas as if they were this person, based on how they might think. Good examples of roles to take on might be a successful visionary in the business world, a competitor or the client; you would not take the role of someone else in the room. By acting as if they are someone else, people in the group will feel more comfortable sharing ideas since they do not have to ‘’own’’ them in the same way they would during a traditional session.

You would start off with a regular session and then move into this to further generate ideas. You do not necessarily have to have everyone adopt an individual role—you can collectively inhabit an identity as well.

Reverse Brainstorming

Brainstorming usually aims to answer questions such as ‘’how can we achieve the result we want?’’ or ‘’how can we fix this problem?’’ These are important questions no doubt, but they can have their limits in terms of getting people to think more deeply about the issue at hand. They are not to be ignored for sure, but they should not be the only types of questions you are asking. This is where reverse brainstorming comes in. By flipping the questions, you get people to look at the situation from a whole different perspective and consider angles that would not occur as readily with the traditional questions. You start by clearly identifying the problem at hand just like you would for any effective brainstorming session. Then, ask some reverse questions. Instead of asking how you could solve a problem, ask what one could do to cause this problem. Instead of asking how to achieve a specific result, ask what one would to accomplish the exact opposite. By looking at the issue from this angle, you will be able to more effectively create solutions.

Association Game

Effective solutions often result from people building on the ideas of others—refining them and improving on them. The association game is a good way to encourage this process. Like always, the first step is to clearly define the issue at hand—the greater the clarity, the more successful the session. You can do this in a couple of different ways. First, you can have someone give a solution and have the next person offer an idea associated with the previous person’s and so on and so forth. You can also perform this as a written exercise where each person writes down a number of ideas—let’s say five—and each person passes the paper to the person next to them. Each person will work on expanding the idea on that paper and pass it on. The session continues until everyone has their own paper.

Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who enjoys writing on a range of business topics. She particularly likes sharing tips on how businesses can better generate new ideas. Follow the link to check out an alternative white board, an important tool in brainstorming sessions.

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