Effective techniques for brainstorming and problem solving

October 15, 2014 by @guidant

Brainstorming is a crucial process in starting a business that can help your burgeoning enterprise succeed. Whether you’re trying to solve a lingering problem or discover new marketing techniques these helpful tips can assist you in coming up with creative ideas.

Group brainstorming sessions can be highly effective. Consider scheduling an hour every week for brainstorming, and organize emergency an emergency meeting to solve a pertinent problem as necessary. Either way, working together and pooling your employees’ mental resources might just be the key to success.

Begin your brainstorming session by outlining the specific problem. This will let everyone know exactly where to direct their creative focus, whether it’s launching a new interactive interface for your website or cheaper shipping solutions.

Brainstorming thrives on the quantity of suggestions. Unlikely solutions can be achieved through ideas that no one has dared to recommend. That’s why it’s important to make your meetings a welcoming space. No idea should face criticism or be frowned upon, no matter how outlandish it may seem. This will encourage your employees to share their most creative thoughts and solutions. Try to get as many ideas as possible – while you may end up not using most of them, you may be able to glean a few suggestions from the long list.

Due to the large quantity of ideas, it’s a good idea to have a dedicated record keeper to document what everyone says. This can ensure that good ideas don’t get lost in the fray, and it’ll give everyone a chance to review each potential solution.

You can also find inspiration by looking at other industries. While your business may be unique, another industry’s methods for solving similar problems can be helpful. Furthermore, you can capitalize on trends affecting another industry. For example, if you run a bakery and you analyze medical statistics and see a rise in gluten allergies or diabetes, you might want to start producing sugar-free pastries or gluten-free cookies.

While you may have a great meeting room to conduct your creative sessions in, sometimes it’s a good idea to change up your venue. Introducing your team to a new environment may help stimulate their imaginations. One locale that you should consider is the outdoors. Ruth Ann Atchley, department chair for the Cognitive/Clinical Psychology center at the University of Kansas, conducted a study on 120 backpackers ages 18 to 60 who took a standardized creativity test. She found that the backpackers who took the test after they had been on the trail scored 50 percent better than those who had not.

It’s important to realize that grinding away at a problem can actually make it harder to solve. Sometimes you need a break in order to obtain a solution. Various studies performed by Alex Pouget, an associate professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester, as well as Michael Shadlen, a professor of physiology and biophysics at the University of Washington, has proved that when subjects were posed with a problem, they reached an effective and confident answer after subconscious neuron activity that they didn’t even realize was taking place. This is what some people refer to as the “Eureka” moment. Thus, when you are posed with your own dilemma, consider taking a break to give your subconscious room to operate.

Due to the fact that many of your solutions may come to at unexpected moments, it’s a good idea to always carry around a notebook and a pen. Don’t let any potential ideas go by the wayside – record them and show them to your team at your next session.

Brainstorming, innovating and problem solving need to be worked through on various levels. Unlike a math equation, the right solution for your small business is unpredictable. By following these tips, you may just find the solution you were looking for, in the least likely place.