Without a doubt, brainstorming is an easy way to flex our imagination and creativity muscles.
Likely, we brainstorm fairly regularly, without being aware that we are exercising creativity and imagination.
Most of the time, this looks like sharing ideas out loud with another person.
However, we often stifle our imaginations, by shooting down the ideas, as soon as they come out of our mouths.
For example, I might say something creative, like, “Hey, let’s drive around and see some neighborhoods we’ve never seen.”
As a response, my friend might say, “Good idea, but we might not have time to see the really cool ones.”
Or, “If we don’t see anything interesting, it will have been a waste of time.”
Definitely, the key to unleashing our imaginations and creativity, is not to diminish our ideas with reasons why they won’t work.
To clarify, here’s are the steps to an effective brainstorming session:
- First, explain to everyone involved that the point is to exercise their creativity and imagination muscles.
- So, this means that no one gets to say anything that diminishes an idea that is offered.
- In other words, explain that reasons why an idea won’t work will come up naturally in their heads, but they have to let them go.
- Next, take turns brainstorming ideas.
- Be sure to encourage everyone to think outside the box; that is, anything goes because no one is going to say anything bad about their ideas.
- Write all of the ideas down, no matter how unrealistic they may seem.
Importantly, if and when people are stumped, encourage them to take their time to think.
- Be quiet.
- Be patient.
- Don’t give them suggestions.
- If they say, “I don’t know,” reply, “Flex your imagination and creativity muscles!”
Next, when everyone has had an even number of turns, circle each person’s favorite idea.
- Then, go through each favorite, thinking of reasons why it won’t work.
- Certainly, limitations to consider are. . .
- social distancing
- other resources
- other limitations
Lastly, agree upon at least one favorite idea, and make it happen. HAVE FUN!
This brainstorming exercise is adapted from the Academic Life Coaching Student Workbook, by John Andrew Williams.