Hello readers! We are coming to you from our brand-new office in Marlow this afternoon – so while our busy little team of designers, strategists and marketers get settled into their funky new surroundings, they have left it up to me to impart some top-tips on effective brainstorming, so listen up…

Brainstorming – it’s something that many of us spend our time doing, whether in a team meeting, alone at our desks, or in the privacy of our own Pinterest boards – I’m currently on location-wedding vision board number 3 and I don’t even have a significant other (that’s a JOKE, obviously, I only have 1 wedding board, only a delusional fool would have 3). My point being that we often face projects, tasks and opportunities that require a structured and effective exploration of ideas, and these thoughts and observations can sometimes be overwhelming to progress and decipher.

The brainstorming process can sometimes be so hectic that it can feel like a waste of time – especially when leading a team session – as getting everyone’s input can quickly descend into chaos, digression and even bickering, or even worse, silence.

So how can we avoid this? Well the key thing to remember is that there is not one set way to brainstorm effectively, there are many different avenues that lead to a streamlined and productive process, we just need to remember to apply them. With this in mind, we’ve put together a short but comprehensive list to assist you and your team in getting the most out of your brainstorming sessions moving forward:

1. Give introverts a chance

To avoid dominant participants in a group brainstorming session, and to encourage introverts to contribute their ideas to the discussion, try starting the brainstorm by sharing the topic with the team and then getting participants to jot down their individual ideas onto paper. This should encourage everyone on the team to share their own ideas, and as it also gives people more time to think about what they are writing down, this should help to quell the fears of the more introverted participants.

2. Walk in someone else’s shoes

This is particularly useful for teams who find themselves coming across the same ideas for repetitive projects or similar clients. Try coming at the situation from the prospective of somebody else – whether that be the client, the target audience or even someone completely abstract. For example, what would Boris Johnson do? (whatever he wants to, and to hell to the rest of you! … one would assume) But the point is, when you centre a brainstorming session around the possible action of a third party, you free up ideas that aren’t limited to your participants and viewpoints, something which can generate a plethora of new and exciting ideas.

3. Get virtual

Most successful businesses today enjoy the flexibility of remote working and have team members spread across different offices and locations throughout the week. This is particularly true for the Pistachio team as we have another office in Nottingham and we are a busy team who are frequently buzzing around being tremendously talented all over the place. So, what do you do if you need to brainstorm when not everyone is in the same room? Well having a central location online where team members can collaborate, store information, video chat and share files is essential, plus it’s great to have a point of reference for old conversations. As a creative agency, Pistachio’s instant-communications weapon of choice is Slack– and funnily enough we’ve written an extra awesome blog all about the ways in which we utilise this tool across our team, which you can read right here.

4. The ring of fire

No, I am not suggesting that you set up a circle of playing cards in the office and then force team members to either drink lethal alcoholic concoctions or embarrass themselves with all manner of lewd tasks – this is not fresher’s week, mores the pity- but you should try sitting in a circle with your team and take it turns to share ideas on a specified topic. Go around the circle and have each team member rattle off one idea each in relation to the topic – it is essential that ideas are not analysed at this point, but are instead noted down to be discussed at the end. This is a great way of encouraging team members who are usually quiet during brain storming meetings to have their say and contribute ideas to the group, it also helps to lessen the risk of dominant personalities monopolising the conversation with their ideas.

5. Question time

Flip your usual brainstorming technique on its head and focus on asking questions rather than formulating answers. Challenge your team to ask as many questions as possible about the chosen topic. You can start the session by asking the ‘who, what and why’ and progress from there. This way you can ensure that all aspects of the project have been covered before work goes into production – avoiding any instances of issues being overlooked and key concepts being rushed.

So, there you have it folks, a quick how-to-guide on getting the most out of your teams brainstorming sessions. We hope that you’ve found our insight useful, and if you want to brainstorm your next idea with us then please do get in touch!

As aforementioned we have now moved Pistachio HQ to Marlow, so please note our new contact details below, we look forward to seeing some of you here very soon!

Marlow Office
Jubilee House, Third Avenue, Globe Park, Marlow, Bucks, SL7 1EY

phone:   01628 882990