Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Brain Game: Successful Brainstorming, Part 2

Big Ideas are the heart and soul of effective communication, but discovering them is hard work. As the leader of a brainstorming session (whether you’re doing it alone or in a large group), you need to know how to sift through the dross in search of those rare nuggets that you can use to create effective advertising and marcom for your products and services. Just remember, you’ve got to be truly original because Baby Boomers have seen and heard it all. So, roll up your sleeves, loosen up your mind, and let’s have a brainstorm.

1) State the problem clearly. Don’t do anything else until you’re absolutely sure that you understand the precise nature of the communication challenge that you face.

2) Dig for solid facts. Dig deeply and broadly. Look at the challenge from every point of view and context you can imagine. Carefully consider all the concrete facts surrounding the problem, because they are the bricks and mortar you will use to create your Big Idea.

3) Stay loose. Free associate. Suspend Judgment. Think of solutions quickly. Capture every thought on paper (or screen) without pausing to assess the merits of any one in particular. The goal is to compile dozens of ideas (or fragments) as fast as you can.

4) Have a meeting of the minds. Get other bright people involved. Collaborate. Volley ideas from mind to mind. Don’t let self-consciousness get in the way, and don’t worry about how wild or silly an idea may sound. You also have my permission to laugh at really inane ideas, because a sense of humor helps keep you loose. And don’t just laugh at other peoples’ obvious duds; laugh at your own, too. Remember, brainstorming should be fun!

5) As you focus on the solution, begin to use judgment. Steadily focus on the perfect solution to the problem no matter how impossibly out of reach it may seem. With this ideal as your goal, you’ll have a way to measure whether any of your ideas are on target. At this point, you’ve got to become objective as you begin judging the raw concepts. Naturally, everybody loves their own ideas, but you’ve got to keep your ego in check to remain credible.

Tomorrow, I’ll cover five more steps to brainstorming success.

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