3rd December 2021

Brainstorming Hacks: There’s no such thing as a bad idea 

We’re sure everyone reading this is pretty well-versed in hosting or taking part in brainstorms. You probably already have a toolbox of approaches that work well for you and your team. With that said, we thought it was worth including a round-up of some alternative brainstorming hacks, some different things you and your team may like to explore, each one backed by proven psychology. First things first, let’s cover off a few of the key fundamentals when it comes to hosting a brainstorm.  

  1. Environment is Key: Ensure the workspace has privacy yet is relaxed and conducive to creativity. (Try one of our booths – did you know the psychology behind pink points to playfulness? So the power of our powder pink booths may well spark off some creative ideas 
  2. Shake Things Up: Change up your environment every now and then, and take your team to a different location or perhaps even for a walk on milder days. A different perspective can often bring new insights 
  3. Start with the Bad and Ugly: There is no such thing as a bad idea but one way to promote acceptance of all ideas is to ask people to start with their worst, wackiest or most ridiculous ideas (you can have great fun with this) before moving onto smarter solutions
  4. Create Creative Spaces: You might like to consider having a permanent creative feature within the team such as a mood board/white board/Pinterest account for people to add their spontaneous ideas over the course of the day
  5. Role Play: We all know it’s a good idea to try and see things from the perspective of your client or customers, and other stakeholders, too. If role play is new to you, and trying this out in large groups feels daunting, encourage the team to break off into pairs to explore switching perspectives when brainstorming. 

If you’ve tried most of the above, then you might like to consider a couple of approaches inspired by proven mindset techniques. You see, great ideas start with a relaxed mind. However, how can you harness a relaxed vibe in a busy working environment? Well, you could give this a go in one of our meeting rooms or else you might like to send staff home half an hour early so they can try one of these ideas at home.  

Try Creativity with a Relaxed Mind 

We perform best, and come up with our greatest ideas, when we’re feeling relaxed and in flow. Even trying a short form of relaxation on ourselves can be a helpful way to gain a direct line to our creativity.  

Decide on a place, space and time for you to practice this relaxation exercise – a space where you won’t be disturbed or interrupted. If you like, play some relaxing music and start off with just a short session of perhaps 10 – 15 minutes. (There are lots of guided sessions online or from apps Headspace or Insight Timer.) 

Give relaxed brainstorming a go… 

  1. Before starting, set an intention for yourself such as, ‘I am using this moment of relaxation as a way to unwind and explore my creativity’.
  2. Next, create an affirmation to use during the relaxation.  e.g. I am creative and full of good ideas.
  3. Focus on enjoying the experience of relaxation. If you are familiar with mindfulness or other relaxation techniques, feel free to spend 10 minutes easing yourself into a relaxing state. Use a guided session or you can simply start off by focusing on your breathing for a few minutes.
  4. Be aware of your breath then take your focus to your body and relax your body slowly from head to toe, moving down the different parts of your body until you have relaxed each part, from your head to your toe. You may find it helpful to say something like “relax my scalp, my scalp is relaxed, relax my face, my face is relaxed etc.” all the way down your body. At the beginning thoughts may still come into your conscious mind but just notice them, don’t get involved with them and take yourself back to what you’re doing.
  5. Once you feel calm and relaxed, drop in your affirmation and repeat a few times. e.g. I am creative and full of good ideas. Pause for a few moments to allow this sense of creativity flow. Then drop in a question you are working with e.g. What should my 2022 marketing campaign theme be?  See what thoughts, images or feelings arise, and allow some space to sit with this for a couple of minutes
  6. Then after around 15 minutes since the start of your session, make a note of any insights that came to you during the relaxation or /else if you didn’t have any ideas, then simply write your question at the top of your page e.g. What should my 2022 marketing campaign theme be? and start making a list of answers and possibilities for 10-15 minutes non-stop without reading back or correcting your responses.  

Doing so in this relaxed state is more likely to help you tap into your creativity compared to when you are in a pressurised or stressed environments. 

Try Dream Incubation 

Dream incubation, as it is known, is simply a way to plant seeds while you sleep. Many great minds, artists, scientists, creatives and scholars have used pre-sleep suggestions successfully to inspire or improve their work, including Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein and Salvador Dali.  

Anyone can do it, it is simply a thought technique, which aims for a specific dream topic to occur either for recreation purposes or to attempt to solve a problem. It works by placing your attention on a particular issue or topic before you go to sleep. 

There is science behind this approach, in fact, in a study Dream Incubation for Problem Solving at Harvard Medical School (1993), Dr. Deirdre Barrett asked her students to think of a problem such as an unsolved homework assignment or another objective problem before going to bed. She noticed that it was possible to come up with novel solutions in dreams that were helpful to the dreamer and solved the problem at hand. 

Those who took part in the study reported great results! Some were able to see finished artwork in their dreams and others developed new characters for a novel, whereas others, were able to solve computing and mechanical design problems.  

Give dream incubation a go… 

The approach is very simple. Get yourself ready for bed and before you turn out the light, take a moment to write out your brainstorming brief or question you are trying to solve. 

Next, summarise your brainstorming challenge in one question. The thing you want to solve or find ideas for. This might be: Which markets should we explore next? What should our marketing theme for 2022 look like? Write out your one question ten times on a piece of paper and place it under your pillow. 

Turn your light off and allow yourself to fall asleep feeling relaxed and at ease. Before you hit the folds of sleep, repeat your question in your mind a few times as you drift off to sleep (not allowing it to get in the way of you actually falling asleep). 

What will happen? You may have a dream that begins to answer your question or you might find that during your waking hours the answer will start to come to you.