Two brains are better than one: The benefits of brainstorming

Public relations is an industry in which professionals must constantly develop creative solutions to problems, generate clever ideas to increase brand awareness and find a way to make a brand newsworthy when in reality there may be nothing new happening at all.

This is where brainstorming steps in to make the impossible, possible. Brainstorming is where a group of people bounce ideas off one another in order to foster creativity and generate solutions to a problem. There are only so many times one person can pull new ideas out of nowhere and that is why brainstorming is such an effective tool in public relations.

The main aim of brainstorming is to build on and extend others’ ideas. It is quite common for a number of ideas to be rolled into one. It’s not about one person coming up with the best idea.

In order to get the most out of an idea generation session consider the following tips next time you sit down for a brainstorm.

  1. Know what you want to achieve- have a goal or outcome that you want to achieve from the creative thinking session.
  2. Set a time limit.
  3. Conduct the brainstorm in a calm and friendly environment.
  4. Have one person record the ideas on writing materials that can be seen by all such as whiteboards or easels.
  5. Create a relaxed space that fosters creativity and playfulness. Provide things such as food, comfortable chairs or a talking stick or object (a ball is easy to get around a room).
  6. Focus on quantity of ideas.
  7. Have people brainstorm individually before the creative thinking session then come together and build on these ideas as a group.
  8. Refrain from judging and/or criticizing others’ ideas.
  9. Only sort through and narrow ideas at the end of the session.
  10. Encourage creativity. It’s equally as important for participants to come up with reasonable, valid suggestions as it is for them to generate crazy and outlandish ideas- sometimes what may seem like a wild idea at first is actually a great solution to the problem.

There are also patterns that arise in creative thinking sessions that hinder the process so make sure to look out for the following during your next brainstorm.

AVOID :  groupthink

  • “Groupthink” occurs when a team of individuals settle on a single idea rather than continuing to generate new ideas as the single idea was accepted by the group as a good solution. This act boils down to a person’s desire to be socially accepted by their peers. Individuals would rather agree with something they don’t whole heartedly believe in than risk exclusion by challenging an idea.

AVOID :  social loafing

  • Social loafing can be explained like this: put one person in a room by themselves and give them a task with a deadline. Then put two people in a room and give them the same task and deadline. Who will be more productive? The team or the individual? Social loafing is when individuals put less effort into a task due to working in a team.

SOLUTION: mind mapping

  • Mind mapping allows for ideas to be generated individually before the group comes together to brainstorm. It involves writing down a word or phrase and getting each person to build on the original theme and map out their thought process. Everyone then brings their mind map to the group brainstorm and after all the ideas have been shared, the team can evaluate as a whole. This reduces the risk of groupthink and social loafing.

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