Why Brainstorm? Finding ideas for business, family, organization and personal decision-making

How to Brainstorm
Photo by: Niranjan Patil

Why Brainstorm?

Ever heard of brainstorming? Brainstorming is an important skill that every individual should develop for lifelong decision-making. While most people have heard of it, very few fully utilize this technique to optimize the quality of their choices. Here are a few facts about the importance of brainstorming:

WHAT IS BRAINSTORMING? Brainstorming is a method for unleashing ideas needed for making a decision. It is a no-holds-bar session meant to create a flow of creativity from an individual’s mind. It may be done for personal individualized decisions as well as for group decisions.

Brainstorming is a visual process. During this process, all ideas are written down in an easy to see form. Individuals and groups alike may write impressions down on paper, on a board or anywhere convenient.

When we physically see all our possibilities, our minds gain a clearer picture of all our options. We gain a different perspective on various solutions that may not have been seen before.

For instance:

  • 1. Analogy: Suppose I needed to put together an outfit for a very important occasion.

This is like a decision that needs to be made.

  • 2. Analogy: There are clothes in my closet that I could choose from to assemble my outfit.

These are like the ideas or possibilities in my mind.

  • 3. Analogy: Since my closet door is closed, I don’t have a visual picture of all my clothing choices. I may try to recall everything that’s in there and make my decision based on that. However, I may not clearly remember or understand all my choices in the closet.

This is like our ideas which haven’t been written down. They are in our thoughts, but since we don’t see all the choices visually laid out in front of us, we may not have a clear picture of all our options.

  • 4. Analogy: When I open the closet door, I physically see all the choices of outfits I have. I am sure of what options I have to choose from because it is visually laid out before me.

 This is the brainstorming process. Our ideas are brought out of our minds and written down in a physical form. When we do this, we see all our options. As a result, we may make better-informed decisions.

  • 5. Analogy: After seeing everything in the closet, I may pull different clothes out and choose, combine, evaluate and eliminate options.

In the brainstorming process, this is where we assess and decide from our choices. We may choose, combine, evaluate and eliminate options to narrow down our ideas. This leads us to choosing one of the more feasible options overall.

  • 6. Analogy: Once the final decision has been made, I can still keep the other outfit options in mind for future reference. They may be needed in case the first chosen option does not work out. Or, they may be used as options for outfits in the future.

Just as the leftover choices from the outfit decision could be used for future reference, our leftover choices that were brainstormed and written down could be used for future decisions, also.

Now that we have a clearer picture of what brainstorming is, this leads us to the question:

WHO SHOULD BRAINSTORM? Everyone who needs to make an important decision should brainstorm. Children, teenagers and adults may utilize brainstorming techniques to come up with ideas and to make decisions.

I don’t know when I started brainstorming. My earliest recollection is when I was in elementary school. I remember considering what I should take for my home lunch on a school field trip in elementary school. I looked through the kitchen for possible supplies. Then I brainstormed.

I had supplies for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, an egg sandwich, a tuna sandwich or a pastrami sandwich. After a mini brainstorming session, I considered all options and I chose the egg sandwich. It was a simple decision, but it was a great exercise in brainstorming that trained me to make “big-people” decisions as an adult.

WHEN SHOULD WE BRAINSTORM? Anyone can brainstorm at any time. It can be as formal as a group brainstorming session at work or as informal as waking up in the middle of the night and jotting ideas down on a piece of paper. I’ve brainstormed on the back of receipts, on my phone notes app and on whiteboards. I’ve brainstormed while waiting for appointments, flying on a plane and in the middle of meetings. The right time to brainstorm is just about any time we need to find solutions to a problem or when we need to make an important decision.

When we need solutions, a quality brainstorming session may enhance the quality of decisions we make. The next time you, your family, or your group needs to make an important decision, begin with a brainstorming session. For details on how to conduct a brainstorming session see:

Have a happy day!

Stacey

The Happy Balance Girl

Copyright 2012 by Stacey Shimabukuro-Lui. All rights reserved.

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