8 Ideal Brainstorming Ideas For Teams

Ideas are the lifeblood of any organisation or team. Without creative ideas about how to accomplish the set goals, how do you expect to make it there? Even though ideas are so vital to organisational progress, it can be exceedingly difficult to come up with new ideas.

brainstorming methods for teams

Team Idea Generation

Idea generation isn’t a natural process for most people. A lot of your employees are probably content doing the work set before them and little else. Most people do not take on extra responsibility without some sort of stimulus.

In most cases you can work together to come up with ideas for the team. It’s not a good idea to wait for employees and team members to come individually to suggest ideas or to always push your own ideas onto your team. Instead, involve the team in idea generation. This will probably result in better and more creative ideas and will definitely improve employee acceptance of the idea chosen.

Finding Successful Ideas Together

How can you do effective group idea generation? This is a question that’s been asked for decades in the workplace. Hundreds of studies have been done on the subject and many professionals have their own opinions on best practices.

These are some of the most commonly agreed on techniques for idea generation that are appropriate for a working team and useful at producing new and creative ideas:

1. Brainstorming/Brain-writing

Traditional brainstorming involves gathering people into an open space and having people give ideas out loud. One person is responsible for writing down ideas spoken by the group. No one should elaborate on the ideas in the beginning, and everyone should be contributing as much as possible. Once a list of ideas is taken down, you can explore whether they are feasible or not.

Brainstorming has a lot of mixed opinions on how effective it is. Some say it’s one of the best idea generation methods because you can build on each other’s suggestions while others will say it’s not effective because the earliest ideas given will usually affect the quality of all the later ideas.

Some variations to try are brain-writing, mind mapping, or SCAMPER techniques. Brain-writing is exactly the same as brainstorming except employees should be writing their ideas down instead of saying them out loud. This is said to eliminate the influence that the first few ideas have over the rest and to set the pace for more creative and out of the box ideas to come through.

Mind mapping goes with brainstorming. Write ideas on a whiteboard in random positions and draw connecting lines between all the ideas in no particular order. See if you can make any of the connecting ideas into something useful and novel or if you can gain inspiration from the map.

SCAMPER stands for substitute, combine, adapt, modify, put to another use, eliminate, and reverse. These are all actions that can be done to a product or service offered by your organisation. If you need to change your existing strategy with products and services, try this technique instead. Take a short time to have employees write or say ideas for each action word when associated with your company products and services.

2. Storyboarding

A technique like this works best within creative organisations that deal more with visual or artistic offerings. Ask people to put some idea into a short series of words, a picture, or anything else like this. Try to fit pieces together to see how peoples’ ideas can work together to tackle a certain problem.

3. Role Playing

It might seem silly the first time you do it, but role playing can generate a lot of really good ideas. Assign different employees a role to play, such as acting like a customer, an executive, a team leader, a failed sale, or any other role that you can think of which might be present around your organisation.

When employees are in these roles, they are told to try to think as that person would think. It can time a little time to adjust to this way of thinking, but once the employees start to get into the activity they will be able to come up with problems and concerns from each side of the scenario. You can then work on how to solve those issues as well as taking ideas from each viewpoint.

4. Forced Relationships

In an effort to find novel solutions, some teams engage in what’s called forced relationships. This is where you take new or existing ideas and connect them together in no particular pattern. By forcing ideas to come into contact with each other you can evaluate if they would be effective together or not, thereby coming up with a lot of different ways to get something done uniquely.

5. Reverse Thinking

Many teams have found this method particularly effective. One of the truths that’s present in most people is that it’s easier to think negatively than positively. So, instead of having people come up with ideas to solve a problem, have them think up ways on how they could absolutely ruin a project.

Examples of this would be someone saying you could ruin customer service by refusing to talk to any customers. Once you have your bad ideas, you can try to understand how to reverse those into a useful idea to take hold of. In other words, if you can ruin customer service by refusing to interact with customers, can you make it better by always interacting with current and potential customers?

6. Questioning Assumptions

It may sound a bit like rebellion or anarchy, but by questioning any and all assumptions made by the company in regards to a product or service you may actually find a great way to make something better. Question why different decisions were made about a product. Were decisions made from fact-based research or from assumptions made by leadership or designers?


Choosing the Most Appropriate Idea Generation Method for Your Team

All of these listed idea generation methods have worked for teams in the past, but that doesn’t mean they are all appropriate for your team specifically. You can use trial and error to find out which ones work best with your employees and which to completely avoid.

Once you find a great way to generate ideas, you’ll see a lot more creativity coming from employees all around as well as an increase in team involvement in a project, as all the members were part of creating the idea.

How to Encourage Creativity in a Team

Creativity is one of the essential things for a modern workplace environment, but the creative process is not necessarily natural for everyone. There are things you as the team leader can do to make creativity a larger priority and an encouraged trait in your team environment.

How to encourage creativity within a team

Benefits Of A Creative Team

When you can form a team environment where creativity is given a priority, you’ll find that employees are more satisfied with the work they’re doing. You might also see your company becoming more competitive as you and your team find new solutions rather than doing the same things over and over.

Creativity is necessary in all work places. While it might not seem like an asset in some of the more mundane areas of work, there are undoubtedly some creative solutions which could impact even those working activities as well. A good, creative solution makes the same work easier or does some other business activity in a new, more effective manner.

What’s Hindering Workplace Creativity?

There are a lot of things that can stand in the way of a creative atmosphere. Work is not normally the place that many people would say they feel the most creative. Research on this topic has found a fairly consistent set of results. Take, for example, a 2013 Gallup study done in American workplaces. Results of the study found a few interesting things that relate to creativity:

  • 70% of employees feel they have too much on-the-job stress
  • Less than half of employees do not feel particularly secure in their jobs
  • Only 33% of employees were completely satisfied with their chances for promotion

Factors Affecting Workplace Creativity

All of these factors tie into workplace creativity in one way or another. Excessive levels of stress at work will make employees shut down and do their best, but it won’t encourage creative thinking. Stress sometimes causes people to work harder, but too much stress reduces productivity and kills creativity entirely.

Job security is necessary if employees are to come up with creative ideas for the business. If any employee does not feel secure in their job, they will be completely unwilling to take risks. Creative ideas almost always require some level of risk. When there is a chance of an employee being replaced, their top priority becomes doing their regular work, not coming up with new and risky ideas that might lose them their job.

Without the powerful motivational force that is a chance at improving yourself, most employees will be less willing to put in the time and effort to be creative. Creativity can be hard, and it might take a long process to get the best ideas and start implementing them. If there is no way to move up from their current position to a better place in the future, few employees are going to be willing to put in that kind of time and effort.


How To Encourage Creativity

Now that some of the main hindrances to creativity are clear, what can be done to promote it and foster a sense of creativity in your working team? Here are a few of the most important things to do if you want to make your working team more creative:

  1. Eliminate Idea Criticism

The creative mind does not always offer the best solutions on the first try. Sometimes it takes a dozen silly ideas before one fantastic idea can emerge. If this is the case, it’s important that you don’t criticize the flow of ideas coming from your team. You may decline to implement them, but do not down-talk employees for their ideas or negatively criticize their way of thinking about an issue.

  1. Reward Creative Risks

Rewarding creative solutions and good ideas is a sure way to make others more interested in being creative. If employees see their fellow team members getting a desirable reward they might become more interested in earning on for themselves by contributing creative ideas. Some ideas for rewards are public recognition, acknowledgement of a good job done, small monetary compensation (gift cards or sometime similarly inexpensive), a personal trophy of any type, or a thank you card signed by employees and management.

  1. Put Idea Generation Tasks on the Agenda

Don’t spend all your working hours doing normal working activities. Make sure your team does at least a few hours of creative thinking and idea generation each week to break up the monotony. This includes activities like brainstorming/brainwriting, problem solving, or any other methods that you find are effective for your unique team. Focus on what works for those individuals. If you force an idea generation task that people hate, you are not likely to get good results from the time spent.

  1. Open Up the Working Space

It’s been shown that open working spaces make employees more collaborative and overall more creative. Collaboration can usually lead to creativity, as diverse minds working together can come up with their own unique solutions to the same problems.

If your team works in their own individual cubicles or stays in a cluttered up office space, try to open it up and make it a clean, relaxing environment where people feel more at ease and closer together. Giving employees a sense of closeness to one another is a great way to encourage them to be creative.

  1. Take Part in the Creativity

If you are the team manager or the leader, you need to also contribute to the creative process. Yes, it’s good to allow your employees the chance to shine and to take the lead, but that doesn’t excuse you from also participating in these creative activities. Lead by example if you want to have a more permanent impact on your team members.

Putting In Sustainable Efforts

Just as you’re looking to encourage creativity, you will also need to be creative in how you apply the above steps. Depending on your unique team, you may or may not be able to continue doing the same things and expecting new results. Over time, you creative processes may need to change in order for new creative ideas to be formed.

Don’t be afraid to use your own creativity as a leader and come up with a new way to draw new ideas from your team!

Have you ever thought of doing a creative based team building event?

Total Team Building specialise in teams…we facilitate a range of creativity and innovation based team building activities such as bridging the gap, raw canvas and let’s get cooking designed to enhance your employees creative side. For more information about how Total Team Building can help you contact us today.