There are multiple data gathering and idea generation techniques that organizations use to collect facts and define project requirements. Common examples include focus groups, questionnaires, prototypes, use cases and observation. While these all have their pros and cons, brainstorming offers companies distinct benefits. Here are just a few.
Human interaction and stimulation of more ideas
Brainstorming does not necessarily need to take place face-to-face. Today, many projects are executed and managed remotely, and staff and stakeholders work at different locations. Brainstorming may be conducted by conference or video call, or through online collaboration tools.
One significant benefit of brainstorming is the human interaction and the ability to stimulate real-time thoughts that can generate ongoing ideas and discussion. People can share real life experiences, different perspectives, obstacles encountered, lessons learned, and project successes. Active and lively discussion stimulates additional brain activity, increasing the chances of developing more ideas.
Brainstorming fosters an environment where participants are challenged to dig deeper and think broader than through techniques where answer patterns or question formulation can (inadvertently or not) constrict the outcomes.
Brainstorming can trigger long-passed experiences and ideas not previously contemplated. This can be of particular benefit during problem-solving sessions where critical thinking kicks into high-gear. When critical-thinking is present, participants are more likely to not only generate ideas, but generate ways to solve problems in a better and potentially faster manner.
Encourages more diverse views
Bringing large groups of people together to brainstorm helps to see things from different vantage points. Diverse views identify opportunities and multiple ways to solve problems: The experience also serves as a learning opportunity for participants interested in new ideas and ways of thinking.
Establishes a common connection around goals
When people brainstorm, they not only share ideas but they learn from each other, troubleshoot better, and become more tolerant. Participants tend to seek additional opportunities for sharing, as well as for personal and professional growth.
The brainstorming technique provides an environment where people can not only bounce ideas around, share valuable experiences, and challenge each other, but they can also learn from each other and increase their connection to reach common goals.
Moira Alexander is the author of "LEAD or LAG: Linking Strategic Project Management & Thought Leadership" and Founder & President of Lead-Her-Ship Group. She's also a project management and IT freelance columnist for various publications, and a contributor and co-host of the "technically speaking" segment on the Price of Business Talk Radio. She has 20+ years in business (IS&T) and project management for small to large businesses in the US and Canada. To find out more about Moira, go to www.leadhershipgroup.com.