Intro to Design Thinking Series: The Art of Brainstorming

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Intro to Design Thinking Series: The Art of Brainstorming

We’re familiar with brainstorming as being a collaborative group discussion where the participants all contribute ideas that will ultimately create a solution to a problem. This is indeed true… but what constitutes a great brainstorming session? What is the formula for making amazing ideas? Where do you start?

Rally the Troops

No brainstorming session is complete without a good team. Grab a couple people from each area involved in project production: creative team, project managers, content strategists, client/task manager, marketing associate, etc. You want a diverse group that can contribute different perspectives on the project. Definitely have a moderator, someone to keep everyone on track when the idea wheels start churning.

Ready, Set…

…a time limit. 1-2 hours. Enough time to get some steady creative juices flowing and not too much where you run the risk of burning out or overthinking. You can always have follow-up sessions. Prep the team before the meeting, so that everyone arrives on the same page when the session starts.


Now we’re getting to the good stuff! Writing supplies? Check. Ample white board space for sketches? Check. Snacks? Check. Let’s get started: State the challenge: You can’t create a product until you know how it needs to function. This where the team discusses and solidifies key performance indicators, what the end-user needs to accomplish the goal of the product and any possible obstacles. One conversation at a time, let everyone’s voice be heard. Work together to define the problem and write a problem statement. Ideate: You’ve now entered the no-judgment zone! Make some assumptions about the product. Try to consider all aspects of your product and business, including consumer/customer beliefs, production, materials, budget, distribution, product positioning, etc. Everyone should contribute thoughts on:

  • a solution
  • the risks from every angle (production and business)
  • who the users are
  • what users value
  • how the product should feel and function

Be visual! Draw mind maps, make priority clusters with post-its, make outlines… Get those ideas out there! Onward and upward: Move forward with the best ideas. These bits of genius are whittled into shape and an implementation plan is created. Brainstorming isn’t just about solving problems. It’s about empowering the team by letting everyone contribute. It’s about creating strong team bonds through effective and efficient collaboration.

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