There have been a multitude of posts written previously on Mindspurt concerning brainstorming; these include: 6 brainstorming ground rules to set in stone! and brainstorming methods to utilize for problem solving. This post promises to be just as useful with a slightly different take. This post will tackle some useful pre-brainstorming activities to help students utilize creative first principle thinking during brainstorming sessions.
Here are 5 pre- brainstorming activities to help students brainstorm more creatively
The “what else could you do with this exercise”
One of the most useful pre-brainstorming activities for students to utilize prior to a brainstorming session is to play a great game that encourages first principles thinking. Essentially take any common item that has a distinct use; now tell students to think “out of the box” and identify at least 20 alternative uses for the same item. This may seem simple, however after the first few guesses – the challenge gets tougher. Have fun with this one!
The “Improve a product” game
Following a similar trend to the previous game, one again find common items that are seemingly considered optimized for use. Now tell students to identify methods to improve the items to make them more efficient e.g. how can a clip board be made more efficient…. just and idea.
Yes! You read right. One of the most useful pre-brainstorming activities for students is playing creative games. Playing games like Charades, Guesstures, Pictionary, Catch Phrase, Taboo and Scattergories all help get the creative juices flowing. Now you have an excuse to make it a game date.
Get your background music right
According to this post by Psychology Today, having the right background sound can greatly increase creativity. In one instance, research suggests that having the right amount of ambient noise like the sound of the ocean or traffic can increase creativity. This is probably the reason why so many people find working in coffee shops so appealing. Another research area suggests that music may also play a role in influencing creativity especially in a mathematical or science setting; it may have to do with the fact that music has a computational aspect to it.
The “Go with a terrible idea technique”
Pick a terrible idea and go with it. Get the group to choose what looks like the worst ideas and then deliberately use these ideas to stretch the group’s creativity. Let the group identify the best features of the terrible idea. This may seem like a fruitless exercise; but it will get the grouped prepared for properly handling ideas that come through the brainstorming session – thus ensuring that no good idea is lost.
Familiarize the group with affinitization
Make sure that the group understand the role of affinitization in the brainstorming session. Being able to easily sort ideas into categories will greatly assist in making sense of the plethora of ideas that come through. You could also use the “five thinking hats technique.” Each hat signifies how you want to look at things:
- Hat 1: “just the facts” manner
- Hat 2: where things could go wrong
- Hat 3: Possibilities
- Hat 4: Alternatives
- Hat 5: New ideas
There it is, some great pre-brainstorming activities for students to make the best out of their brainstorming sessions. Use them effectively and the possibilities will be endless.