But unfortunately this is not always the case… Sometimes I just can’t come up with a single idea. I’m just totally stuck. But over the years, I have armed myself with a secret weapon against it. I’ve learned to use brainstorming techniques.
Why are brainstorming techniques useful?
To generate a good project idea, you need to have lots of ideas. Brainstorming techniques lets you create many ideas. A good idea usually comes after several bad ones, so be thankful even for the bad ideas – they are necessary to find the good ones.
Mind mapping is maybe one of the most famous of the brainstorming techniques. Start with a topic in the center. For example “cool circuit idea”. Beneath the topic, draw a small drawing of something that represent the topic just to get your brain started.
Now, draw lines from the center and write whatever comes to mind. Try to group similar ideas together on a branch. Do not use sentences, only keywords. Preferably only one word per idea. An alternative approach is to used drawings instead of words.
The Doodle Map is one of the brainstorming techniques I learned from Øistein Kristiansen, a great cartoonist I used to work with in Singapore.
Start with your topic as headline on the top center of a blank sheet of paper. Now make a random squiggle. A squiggle is just a bunch of lines on a paper with no specific intention. See if you can find anything in the squiggle that reminds you of the topic.
Fill in the drawing to make the idea come forward. Continue doing this to find many ideas. If you can’t find anything, try putting a pair of eyes somewhere in the drawing and start from there.
Just list stuff
If you think the two techniques above are a bit “artistically” for you, then the brainstorming technique that will probably work for you is to just list stuff. Start with a blank piece of paper. Write your topic on the top of the sheet.
Often the use of a timer is really helpful when trying to come up with ideas. Set the timer to 15 minutes and do not stop your idea generation until the timer stops. Write down every idea, even the stupid, unrealistic or boring ideas. Don’t stop yourself from writing down the bad ideas, they are important for the process.
Make yourself continue to write ideas for the whole 15 minutes. If you get stuck, just write something stupid to keep at it.
Idea generation is always useful
I have used these brainstorming techniques many times throughout my career for idea generation and I continue to use them still. It is always good to do a brainstorming before going ahead with an idea, just to see if you can improve the idea even more.
Do you have any techniques for coming up with ideas? Let me know in the comment field below.