Forty Tips for Better Online Brainstorming

Authored By Darin Eich, Ph.D.

In the true spirit of online brainstorming, I created a brainstorm on BrainReactions.net and used it as a tool to write this article. I keep the article format as an organized list of tips. You can view the original brainstorm process I used at http://www.brainreactions.net/brainstorms/1556 and even suggest your own ideas or tips.

1. Brainstorming is different than Q&A. It is about multiple ideas instead of a single answer, so approach the process with quantity in mind.
2. Each individual submits multiple ideas.
3. Multiple individuals submit multiple ideas.
4. The person who creates the brainstorm should start it off with at least 5 ideas.
5. Follow the traditional brainstorming rule of going for a high quantity of ideas.
6. Set an individual goal to create 20 ideas (like I’m doing here).
7. Understand that a concept can be broken down into smaller ideas and these ideas can be mixed and matched…so the parts have value.
8. When creating a brainstorm invite others to join.
9. Set an actual structured time for people to log in and brainstorm live.
10. During a live brainstorm it is exciting to see other ideas being added alongside yours, this motivates people to generate more ideas.
11. Set a goal to involve at least 8 people in the brainstorm.
12. Show a previous great brainstorm example to people.
13. Allow people to click a link that shows them an example of a quality brainstorm while they are brainstorming, this will give them a model.
14. Do not judge or put down ideas while you are brainstorming.
15. Click on the “good idea” button for good ideas.
16. Take one of the good ideas you select to the next level.
17. Build and extend on ideas presented earlier in the brainstorm.
18. Quantity is needed first to be able to unleash the power of building and extending, so add a number of ideas even if they may already exist.
19. Google for insights while brainstorming.
20. Stay focused on the question and topic.
21. If an idea is off topic, though, accept it because the focus is on the process.
22. Take a risk by submitting a pretty far out idea…do this intentionally as a part of the process.
23. Submitting a far out idea is fun and motivating and can encourage creativity.
24. Put some motivating music on in the background while brainstorming (see ideas of songs to try in the most ideated brainstorm on the BrainReactions.net website).
25. Drink some coffee while brainstorming!
26. Call a friend for ideas.
27. Try to synthesize previous ideas into a theme to brainstorm from.
28. Try to synthesize a couple of ideas into a further developed concept.
29. Practice brainstorming tools to help you generate ideas, like SCAMPER.
30. Brainstorm from your laptop in a place that is creative and energizing for you…I’m doing this now from my favorite coffee shop.
31. Look around your environment for ideas.
32. Accept the same idea from multiple people, this still has value, it tells you it could be important.
33. When brainstorming online, organize your thoughts and ideas into a logical sequence and present them in that way.
34. Create a mindmap of ideas relating to the topic or question and add them online in a more developed way.
35. Focus on process, your individual process for generating a high quantity and quality of ideas, and the brainstorm process as a whole that encourages different people.
36. Seek a diversity of individuals to submit ideas.
37. Create a question that is open enough that many idea alternatives are possible.
38. Give more background to the question in the space provided; this will help people understand the desired outcome for doing the brainstorm.
39. Use a few ideas here and there to model good ideas that match the question; they can even be existing ideas.
40. Step away from the question for a moment to let your mind recharge and reload ideas and return to power them out.

About The Author

Darin

Darin Eich is the author of Innovation Step-by-Step: How to Create & Develop Ideas for your Challenge and Root Down & Branch Out: Best Practices for Leadership Development Programs and has a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin. Darin was also the president and co-founder of BrainReactions, InnovationTraining.org, and other startups. Darin gives speeches and can be hired to help your institution facilitate, create, and develop innovation programs, courses, retreats, and even conduct assessment or coach staff on developing leadership programs. Visit Innovation Training to see for yourself or email darin@programinnovation.com.