How to Find the Right Idea: The Four Rules of Brainstorming

Annalena Simonis, Thursday 09 September 2021 | Reading time: 4 min.

Brainstorming is the all-time classic method for generating creative ideas. But instead of waiting for a spontaneous flash of inspiration, there are some rules you should follow, especially in a group. Find out more about the four basic rules of brainstorming.

Did you know that the word brainstorming is derived from the phrase "using the brain to storm a problem"? The goal is to find an optimal solution to a problem through intensive creative thinking - and preferably together in a group. Today, brainstorming is one of the classic creativity techniques. Whether in a meeting or when planning a private birthday party - brainstorming takes place in all areas of life and already exists in many different versions and variants. To ensure that the creative method does not become too time consuming, it is important to observe a few rules. In this article you will find out what you need to pay attention to.


1. Every idea is a good idea

The first rule is the of the most important one. There is no room for criticism in brainstorming. For the best end result, it is important that everyone in the group feels comfortable and has no inhibitions or shame about sharing their ideas. So during the process, there is no evaluation of ideas or interjections from other participants. This applies to both verbal and nonverbal feedback. Sentences such as "That doesn't make sense right now." or "That can never be implemented." slow down the creative flow of the group. During brainstorming, it is allowed to think in all directions. Discussions take place afterwards in the evaluation phase but are prohibited during the brainstorming phase. Be sure to create the right atmosphere, otherwise many ideas will remain unspoken, including perhaps the best ones.


2. Quantity instead of quality

The second rule picks up where the first rule left off. As mentioned before, the brainstorming phase is initially about thinking in all directions. Even if a flash of inspiration seems outlandish at first, it can provide further food for thought as the brainstorming process continues. The more ideas that come up initially, the better. Even if you're not sure whether your idea makes sense or is appropriate, throw it out there for now. To avoid confusion and ensure that no suggestion is forgotten, all contributions should be immediately recorded visually, for example in the form of mind maps.


3. No copyright

An important element of brainstorming is the group. The more diverse the participants, the more diverse the ideas that come out. Everyone goes into brainstorming with different ideas, associations and attitudes. And that's what makes a good brainstorming session. Where one person's horizon is limited, another person's creative thinking is just beginning. It's important to work with each other and not against each other, because the goal is to find the best solution as a team. Therefore, rely on the swarm intelligence of your group. Spinning on the ideas of others is not only desirable, but also an important aspect of brainstorming. The ego of the individual must be put aside in the process, even if this may mean that in the end your idea is considered a success for the group.


4. Good moderation is key

Although we described in rule number 2 how important it is to think in all possible directions and also sometimes around corners, you must not get lost in mental labyrinths. This starts with the initial question. What is the goal of this brainstorming session? What solution are we aiming for? What problem do we want to solve? For this reason, choose a moderator for your brainstorming session who will guide the group and, if necessary, get it back on track. The moderator also has the task of collecting all the ideas for the group and also determines when the process of creative brainstorming is complete.


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