The Brainstorming Technique : 6 Golden Rules to get A LOT of ideas
Have you ever heard of the brainstorming technique ?
It’s an amazing way to produce dozens of ideas in a very short amount of time. In this post, I’m presenting all the reasons why it’s an amazing tool for designers, and giving you 6 golden rules to make a good brainstorming session !
What’s a brainstorming ?
Let’s see the Thesaurus definition : “a conference technique of solving specific problems, amassing information, stimulating creative thinking, developing new ideas, etc., by unrestrained and spontaneous participation in discussion.”
So brainstorming is the technique of producing ideas and solve problems by having a spontaneous discussion. It suggest that it is only a group activity, but it works if you’re alone as well !
Why you should do a brainstorming
I love brainstorming ! I use the technique at the very beginning of any new creative process. [I also love to do possibility brainstormings, an amazing technique from Melyssa Griffin, that actually solves all of my problems, but that’s for another day 😃]
As Creative Souls, we always want to invent amazing things. Sometimes, when it’s a more artistic project, you might rely only on your inspiration, and create without a structured creative process.
But when we are designing, we often need a more structured approach, and make sure we find the best solution to the problem we are solving [Designing is all about finding the best aesthetic solution to a customer’s needs, aka solving their problem with a beautiful + useful product]
Brainstorming is, to me, the best way to start a new creative project.
When I start any collections of fashion design or textile design, I always have a general idea or feeling I want to express, but I never know exactly what it will look like in the end. But how do you translate a feeling, a sensation, something super abstract into a finished design ? I have my own 5-Steps Creative Process to do that, and brainstorming is the first step to inventing new amazing things !
Oh my, I just love so much to be creative and make creative projects.
So why you should use the brainstorming technique when you are starting to design something new ? [Let’s give you more arguments, beyond “because Floriane said so” 😂]
- While you might have some ideas around your theme, having a brainstorming session will make you sure that you explore aaaaall the possibilities you can think of, cause you don’t want to leave out any great idea on the table, right ?
- Brainstorming gives you more ideas : because you think about the same concept for an extended period of time [ok maybe just 10 minutes, but still], your brain has the time to find all the ideas you already had, and create some more.
- Because you’re not judging yourself and your ideas, you are accessing a “chain thinking” : you have one idea, that leads you to another, and another, and another ! This way, you get not only more ideas, but less obvious one ; it’s not ideas that jump to mind easily, it’s ideas you wouldn’t have thought of normally. Your ideas are more sought-after, more refined.
- Brainstorming is the easiest way to get into “the flow”, or enter “a flow state” : it’s a creative mood that designer experience when everything is flowing ; ideas comes so naturally one after the other, you are super focused, nothing else exist but you and your project, and you just work for hours without realizing it ! [Have you ever felt it ? It’s my favorite mood eveeeer 💛]
Now let’s see the five golden rules to have an amazing brainstorming session !
The 5 golden rules for a great Brainstorming :
1. No judgment !
Write everything that goes through your mind, especially if it sound silly. Don’t criticize yourself or your ideas. You’re not even supposed to have time for this ! (Check out rule n°2 to see what I mean). Be the most spontaneous you can be, without intellectualizing things. Don’t allow yourself to think “this isn’t good enough”, “this is a crazy and unachievable idea” ; just write the idea and one to the next one !
2. 10 min straight (at least)
Brainstorm for at least 10 min without stopping or getting distracted. The more ideas the better. You want to have at least 1 idea every 10 seconds, and to do that, you have to apply rule n1. The goal is to produce the maximum number of ideas, in the minimum amount of time.
3. From the last idea, find a new one.
If a word you just wrote just made you think of something, write that thing down ! The power of associating thoughts will get you ideas you’d never think of. Continue associating thoughts, until you’re dried, then go back to your original concept and start again. That right there, is where the magic of brainstorming lies.
4. WRITE everything down.
No, you won’t remember what you thought about. Not in 2 seconds, so definitely not in 2 days or more. So please, write everything down ! Writing also helps you get the idea out of your head, to make space for new ones.
5. Messy is 1000% fine.
When brainstorming, you absolutely DON’T need any organization of the ideas, just fill your entire paper or make a list on your software. I allow you to make it look super messy, write words upside-down, on a napkin or the last page of your notebook. It’s all fine, ‘cause you’ll make it look beautiful later.
6. Alone or together ?
The brainstorming technique works as a team, or on your own. I feel like you can go deeper if you do it alone, exploring all of your own ideas to the core. But if you do it with a team or with friends, you can go wider ; people will think about different things you wouldn’t have thought of, and more themes can come up. So it’s up to you to choose if you want to do a brainstorming session alone, or as a collaborative session. You can even combine both ! But if you choose to have a group session, be careful not to judge others’ opinions, as per rule n°1.
Make the best of your brainstorming session
Before your brainstorming session, you should :
- Know what your going to brainstorm on : you need an idea, a concept, a keyword… But I’m sure you already have one !
- Find a quiet place, or somewhere you’ll know you are able to totally focus, without being distracted. You might put some music on, if it helps you focus, or be in a completely silent room ; whatever works best for you !
- Prepare pens and paper ; make sure you have enough so you won’t interrupt your session because you don’t have enough space on your paper or you pen isn’t working anymore.
- Add definitions to your main keywords/idea : this is great to get you started, and will give you the first ideas on your theme.
Time try the brainstorming technique ! You’ll be amazed by the number of ideas you will find ✨
After your brainstorming session :
- Cross/Eliminate ideas that are TOTALLY unrelated. But do not cross too much ; maybe you can even skip this step. This only happens when you let your mind totally go free, but the first time, you most likely won’t have ideas that digress too much.
- Find some common themes : you might realize that some ideas can be related, placed under the same bigger concept.
- Once you found some common sub-themes, organize your ideas in the form of a mind map : Put your central idea/keyword in the middle, then add the sub themes, and then all the ideas that goes with it.
- Once you have your mind map, you’re ready for the 2nd step of the Creative Process !
Sooo ! Did you do a Brainstorming for your design process ? How did it go ? Share your experience in the comments below !
Did you know that the brainstorming technique is actually the first step of a designer’s creative process ?
There are several techniques to create, and each designer may have a process that’s a little bit different. But every designer has one, for sure !
I’m sharing with you my own, 5-Steps Creative Process. You just learned the first one, which is the Brainstorming technique ! Are you ready for the next steps ?
Download my 5-Steps Creative Process ebook to continue to create, and invent an amazing new design !
Floriane Schmitt is a textile designer, sharing her knowledge about textiles + creativity. She graduated with honors at a Parisian fashion school in Fashion Design & Fashion Business, and started her career with Flo Home Delight, her creative textile studio. Discover her collections on www.flohomedelight.com. She is also teaching creative souls how to become better designers, using textile as a main medium.