Stalled Brainstorm? Try This Trick

by Lisa Bodell for ForbesWomen

Unproductive brainstorms: We’ve all been in ‘em—and we all wish we could get those hours of our life back. Even though studies suggest that the most creative ideas of a brainstorm happen after the first burst of ideation fizzles out, most groups give up before reaching this phase.

When your own brainstorm reaches the point of painfully awkward silence, reach for the Forced Connections technique. It helps inject fresh thinking into the room and will shift people into a more innovative mindset.

Start by writing the goal of your brainstorm on a whiteboard. For illustration, let’s say your goal is to “improve the features of Product X or Service Y.” Now, switch gears by choosing a random object that’s visible to everyone: a dry-erase pen or an exit sign or, for the sake of illustration, let’s use a hydro flask.

Ask the room how they’d describe the hydro flask in terms of color, texture, and functionality? Some examples are “insulated,” “durable,” “portable,” “smooth,” etc. Capture all of these characteristics on the whiteboard, and keep in mind, the more creative your adjectives, the better your results will be.

Now, choose just three of those characteristics to tie back to your brainstorming goal. Here, you’re gonna force the connections using an open-ended question such as: “In what ways might we improve the features of Product X or Service Y to make it…insulated? Durable? Portable?”

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