Brainstorming Techniques: Importance, Methods and Steps

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 7 September 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Brainstorming is an effective tool for discussing important topics and generating ideas with a large group of people. Learning how to brainstorm can help you effectively collaborate with your colleagues and generate creative ideas that help you make important business decisions. Understanding the value of brainstorming and how to do it effectively can teach you how to listen to other people's ideas and communicate your own thoughts clearly. In this article, we discuss brainstorming and what it means, its importance and value for product managers, how to brainstorm effectively and some brainstorming techniques.

What are brainstorming techniques?

Brainstorming techniques are strategies you can use to communicate ideas with a group of people. Brainstorming is common in group discussions when members create a plan or generate ideas, such as titles for a new product or a new company policy. Group members can vocalise their thoughts and refine their ideas by brainstorming. While it typically involves speaking aloud and having discussions, you can also brainstorm effectively by creating visual aids, such as making mind maps, taking the minutes of the discussion or simply noting the main points of the discussion on a piece of paper.

Despite the freedom and informal nature of brainstorming, there are some important rules to consider during a session to ensure that group members are confident enough to share their thoughts and that colleagues respect each other's opinions. The following is a guide to these rules:

  • Encourage quantity of ideas, not quality. When brainstorming, it's important to focus on gathering as many thoughts and opinions as possible without focusing on their quality. This is helpful because it compiles various options to choose from at the end of a session.

  • Expand upon other people's ideas. Brainstorming sessions are open discussions, so encourage your colleagues to build on each other's ideas. This creates a much clearer direction for each idea that can make the later planning stages easier.

  • Don't provide negative feedback. It's important to create a supportive brainstorming environment, regardless of whether you disagree with a point made. Avoid giving negative feedback or redirect the conversation if a colleague gives negative feedback to ensure that everyone feels comfortable sharing their opinion.

  • Encourage creativity. When starting your brainstorming session, encourage people to think in an abstract and creative way. This helps you gather as many diverse opinions as possible, which is especially beneficial when deciding on product ideas or business strategies.

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The importance of brainstorming methods for product managers

Product managers rely on creative ideas when approaching a product development process. Brainstorming can help them gather a high volume of abstract ideas on new products and how to achieve company objectives. As product managers primarily work with project management teams, it's important for these professionals to understand the value of brainstorming within a group.

One of a product manager's key responsibilities is navigating an extensive product planning stage, so it's important for them to use brainstorming tools to create a concise plan. The following is a guide to some reasons why brainstorming is useful for product managers:

Boosts team morale

An important part of maintaining a positive team dynamic is ensuring that everyone feels valued and understood. As product development relies heavily on teamwork, product managers often check that their team members are happy and comfortable contributing to the idea development stage. This motivates team members to feel engaged and focused on fulfilling the project's targets.

Brainstorming is a good way to reinforce positive team culture and boost team morale, as it encourages diverse opinions from all team members. Team members working towards a product may feel more empowered to work hard to make a suitable product if they feel personally involved in the early stages of product development.

Related: 6 Qualities That Make a Great Team Player

Finds new ways to approach product development

Product development and management thrive on creativity and finding new ways to develop exciting products that help businesses achieve their key objectives. A key benefit of brainstorming is that it gathers a high volume of diverse opinions that can highlight new ways of approaching product development. This can improve processes and lead to a better product.

Therefore, it's important for product managers to incorporate brainstorming in the early planning stages of the product development process, as they may find methods to approach the project that reduce costs, speed up timelines, meet company expectations more effectively and achieve all the project's objectives.

Related: How to Become a Product Manager (Full Guide with Steps)

Helps product managers find new gaps in the market

Product managers are responsible for finding gaps in the market to exploit for financial gain. They may work collaboratively with sales and marketing departments on this. It's also important for product developers and managers to think of new products and strategies that can help a business grow. A good way to do this is to gather various opinions in a brainstorming session.

Gathering ideas can allow product managers to identify new gaps in the market to create new and exciting products that attract customers. It's important to gather many ideas instead of focusing on quality, as this can allow product managers to combine options to produce a new and innovative product.

Related: What Is Story Mapping? (With Benefits and Instructions)

How to brainstorm with a group in 4 steps

To help you effectively brainstorm with a group to develop new products, consider taking the following steps:

1. Begin with a warm-up activity

Before you can begin the planning process, ensure that you have the team set up in a suitable environment. This can be a calm environment with few distractions that facilitates creative thinking. Then, have the team complete a warm-up activity to relax them and allow them to think more creatively.

Consider warm-up activities such as instructing your group to tell a run-on story where each person adds a sentence after the person before them. Alternatively, instruct them to create an exciting sales pitch for a random object in the room. These activities are effective icebreakers that help employees develop their creative thinking and decision-making skills, which are important for brainstorming.

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2. Set your objectives

Once your team feel relaxed, communicate what the objectives of the brainstorming session are. Don't put too much pressure on them, as this may be restrictive. Providing objectives gives the session structure and allows team members to work towards a collective goal. For example, an objective might refer to the number of ideas you hope to generate before the end of the session.

Alternatively, you may communicate the overall objectives for the product campaign, allowing your team members to think of a product based on this prompt. Consider visualising your goals by writing your objective in the centre of a whiteboard and writing ideas around it throughout the session.

Related: Understanding Objectives vs Goals (Including Examples)

3. Document important discussions

During the session, ensure that either you or another professional notes down any important discussions. This ensures that no one forgets any suggestions or opinions that could benefit the development process. Alternatively, you can record the session on an audio player or ask your team to collaborate on an online whiteboard using their technical devices. You might also encourage your team to make individual notes as the discussion continues. This can help them build on each other's ideas.

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4. Follow up with your group

After your brainstorming session ends, follow up with the group in the next days or weeks. It's important to communicate the decision regarding which idea is the best for product development, as this shows the team that their contributions have tangible results. Consider having more brainstorming sessions later on in the planning process as you work towards selecting a single product idea. You can then hold a final brainstorming session when you've decided on an idea. Ask your team about their opinions regarding how to conduct the product or project development process.

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