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Classic Brainstorming Methods for Modern Teams

written by: •edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 8/31/2010

By employing these classic brainstorming methods in your team situation, you can help to solve problems, determine product areas, and define projects. Learn all about how you can take brainstorming methods that have been used for ages and apply them to your team situation.

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    Why Worry about the Classic Brainstorming Methods?

    What Classic Brainstorming Methods Will Help Your Team? By paying attention to classic methods of brainstorming for your projects, you can ensure that you are able to come up with great ideas as a team. While your brainstorming methods may include using collaborative software, you may wish to revisit some of the classic brainstorming techniques for your team. In another article that provides links to helpful brainstorming templates you can use in your meetings, I mentioned a few different types of brainstorming methods. Here, I will revisit a couple of those and demonstrate how you can use them in your modern team setting.

    Image courtesy of sxc.hu/artM

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    The Classic Cluster Brainstorming Method

    In the classic cluster brainstorming method, you start with your topic written in the middle of the page, then you draw "spokes" from your topic to different ideas you come up with as you brainstorm. There are many different ways that you can implement this method of brainstorming with your team. Here are some ideas:

    • Have everyone complete their own cluster brainstorm for 15-20 minutes then come together and discuss the different ideas
    • Use a white board to brainstorm as a group
    • Use collaborative software to create a cluster diagram
    • Pass paper around the room and have everyone add to the diagram
    • Use a Google document so that everyone can contribute to the diagram
    • Have everyone write some ideas on their own cluster brainstorm, then pass their sheet to the left. Continue until the brainstorms have made it all the way around the room.

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    The Classic Listing Method

    Creating a list derived from a topic is another means of classic brainstorming. Using listing brainstorming in a modern team is a little different from using the cluster method. You can have each team member start out with one aspect of the topic to create a list from. When he or she is done with his or her list, then the list can be passed to the person on the left. When the brainstorming session is complete, you will have several lists on several different aspects of the topic, and each person on the team will have had a chance to contribute to each list. This is especially helpful if you are brainstorming ideas for a new project or if you are brainstorming marketing ideas for your company. Because everyone brings his or her own perspective to the table, it can be an especially useful method.

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    The Classic Question-Based Brainstorming Method

    There are a few different ways to go about this final classic brainstorming method. One way to do it is to ask questions that get at the six sides of a topic.These questions include:

    • Questions dealing with describing the topic or problem
    • Questions dealing with analyzing the topic or problem
    • Questions arguing for or against the topic or problem
    • Questions about applying the topic
    • Questions comparing the topic or problem
    • Questions dealing with associating the topic or problem with other features.

    Alternatively, you can combine the question-based brainstorming method with other types of brainstorming. For example, if your team has provided a cluster diagram on a whiteboard, by asking the above sorts of questions to help clarify or come up with more aspects of the topic, you can get a more in-depth brainstorming session. Likewise, if a list has been completed, you can ask different questions to help evoke further items for each list.