As our name accurately describes, we love creativity. We believe that creative problem-solving and collaborative teams are the keys to finding great solutions.
Brainstorming is always a part of professional collaboration. Whether your team is looking for ways to improve a process, coming up with pitches, making new proposals, or just solving unexpected issues, they will use brainstorming to find the right idea.
In the creative problem-solving process known as design thinking, brainstorming is used in the third stage called — ideation. In this step of the process, the team formulates ideas based on information gathered about the current problem and the needs of the customers. The best solutions are then developed as prototypes.
This stage of design thinking is an important foundation for what will later become an actual product. Because this process is iterative and new problems can arise at any point, we always go back to brainstorming as an important tool for developing the best services.
But sometimes, ideas simply elude us. We get stuck. No matter how much we try, we can’t seem to get in the right state of mind to solve our problem. It happens to all of us, even the best of us. Not to worry. If you find yourself in a situation where you are not able to be productive, here are a few suggestions on how to brainstorm your way out of a rut and get back on your creative horses.
Improvise And Let All Ideas Flow
Brainstorming is all about quantity. Sometimes the process can feel like throwing something and see what sticks. Even if not all our ideas are a perfect fit for what we need, all ideas are welcome. You might feel stuck and unable to produce incredible solutions, but you never know when your brain will unravel the pieces of the puzzle and show the whole picture.
We can safely call improvisation the brainstorming exercise of the art world. Through improvisation, you can explore a theme to its full potential and reach unexpected results. When you improvise, you follow your instincts and listen to the moment, rather than plan for a defined endgame.
Here are some of the capital rules of improvisation:
- Always say yes.
- Collaborate and develop on other people’s statements.
- Everything goes, there are no incorrect ways of improvising.
- Have fun with it.
- Be grateful.
In the ideation process, improvisation can unleash your imagination. Reserve criticism for the testing phase, don’t be afraid to express all ideas that come to mind and put them out there.
Do Something Else Entirely
Having a metaphorical blank page in front of you can both yield possibilities and make your mind race. On the other hand, when you have specifications and fixed requirements, you might get stuck on a singular thought, unable to move past it. When it comes to being stuck creatively, no one knows the feeling better than a writer. We all know the phrase “writer’s block.”
So let’s go for inspiration to one of today’s most famous writers, Neil Gaiman. Because the author actually doesn’t believe in writer’s block, one of his rules for escaping the feeling of being stuck is to move on to another project.
While waiting for inspiration, you might miss out on valuable productive hours, especially when you are in the workplace. Instead of obsessing over an idea that just won’t form itself, focus your attention on something else for a while. Change your environment and your work pace to boost your subconscious.
Train Your Problem-Solving Skills
When we work our imagination too much, we become creatively exhausted. That state of brain fog and uncertainty might just be our minds getting tired of ruminating. To give your brain a boost, engage in physical activities that train your problem-solving skills.
Einstein got out of his block by working as a patent clerk, a menial job for his capabilities. Being confronted with a more straightforward, factual activity, helped him understand that his theory needed a more tangible approach, something he had missed while thinking outside of the real-world paradigm. While not all of us are genius physicists, activities that exercise our problem-solving muscles can still lead us on a path to the perfect solution.
Put Your Idea Through A Different Medium
When we struggle to find inspiration, it can be helpful to put that thought through a different lens. Brainstorming is not limited to naming ideas out loud and having team discussions. A palpable medium is a great way of illustrating a thought.
Here are some examples of how you can play around with the idea until you discover the right iteration:
- Make a mood board and put your thoughts into visual brainstorming
- Find and cook the food that will suit the feeling you want to create (and share it with your teammates)
- Imagine what would be the soundtrack of the experience you are trying to create. Use music or sounds to create the perfect audio environment
- Write the story of how you discover the perfect solution. Don’t stress about the details or the outcome, instead focus on the narrative design
- If you are working on something technical, try to transform it into an artistic experience. If you are working on something creative, focus on the most pragmatic aspects
Perhaps you don’t have the entire idea, but you have a seedling. Something is missing, or some things are impossible for the time being and these obstacles make you feel creatively stuck. But what if you go backward?
Imagine that you have everything you need at your disposal. All the tools that maybe are too expensive at the moment, all the pieces that are yet to be developed, all the ideas that are not yet fully developed. You have everything. How does your final product look?
Software engineers use reverse-engineering to pick apart a tool and observe how it was made. Start from the hypothetical final product and go backward to understand how you may have reached that solution.
Even if this is a theoretical situation, this type of brainstorming helps you understand the connections between all the steps and stimulates your thought process in the right direction.