Osburn’s brainstorming standards
“Focus on the crowd.”
In other words, the more ideas the better. At some point, you’re going to run into something great, but the time you spend screaming out the first things that pop into your mind isn’t wasted. Don’t hold out until you have a big idea, share the small ones too.
There are no bad ideas during a brainstorming session. Ever. Instead of taking the time to figure out why someone’s thoughts were wrong, try using the bad idea to spark a good one. If you can’t, just go ahead. Bringing negative attention to someone in a brainstorming session is a great way to make sure they don’t share their next idea, even if it’s a great one, and it makes everyone else hesitate to join in.
“Welcome unusual ideas.”
Osburn suggests looking at things from a new perspective and removing all assumptions. Instead of worrying about what will work tactically, what will fit in the budget, or whether a quirky idea will ever be implemented, just think freely.
“Combine and improve ideas.”
Ideas fly here. Don’t hesitate to dig deeper into a combination of ideas to see where they can go together.
We should conduct all of our brainstorming sessions with these rules in mind, as the goal of brainstorming is to generate ideas rather than immediately come up with a fully verified strategy. As a school marketer, you also need to distill these ideas to determine what is realistic, how it fits the strategy, and if it fits into the budget. But first you need the ideas. Just like writing, editing should be saved until the end. Don’t censor your creativity during the brainstorming process – let the ideas flow and save the red pencil for later.
Set the stage for Osborn-approved brainstorming sessions
- Appoint a brainstorming moderator to start the session and keep it updated. This person should listen and gently lead the conversation.
- At the beginning of the session, share the four rules with your brainstorming group. If people know that unconventional thinking is encouraged and no idea is being ridiculed, they are more likely to speak up.
- Record the session or bring in someone whose only job is to take notes. That way, none of the thinkers have to worry about writing down their ideas.
- Gather a diverse group of people. Remember, you want new prospects, so look outside the marketing department. You will receive unique perspectives from people whose brains are not clouded by an existing creative task or strategy. As an added bonus, you give employees across the company a sense of ownership over the content that is being created.
Marketers from different industries have insightful tips and tactics to use to improve your next brainstorming session.
Mix up your team. “We’ve found that bringing together people to brainstorm articles who write for clients in completely different industries is a great way to introduce new thinking. Your tech writers may not be too familiar with the current and recurring topics in healthcare, but the questions they ask may just be the incentive your healthcare writers need to come up with really original article ideas. ” – Adam Barber from Castleford Media over Search engine journal
Define the problem, not the solution. “While everyone has the opportunity to think creatively during a brainstorming session, there should be a practical purpose for your gathering or there would be nowhere to go. If the conversation gets lost, remind everyone of the problem you want to solve and keep working towards that goal. ” – – Richard Branson to the Virgo – businesswoman
Put together more than just a few ideas. “Do not discuss the first ideas in depth. The idea here is to gather a large list of ideas. They won’t all be big winners, but sometimes crazy ideas lead to great things. ” – – Yvonne Lyons to the Right source marketing
Resist the urge to reinvent the wheel. “Content marketers often waste time starting over with a blank screen instead of looking for models to use as a basis for their current project. Save time planning your next content marketing project by looking for examples that have worked in the past. ” – – Roger C. Parker to the Institute for Content Marketing
Have writing materials ready. “You always need something to record your thoughts. When you wait and think that you will remember too late later. ” – Tim Jones from Cybrix over Inc.
Roll it out. “in the [the brainstorming strategy Cubing]a topic or an idea is examined from six different perspectives, hence the name. Describe the subject (what is it?), Compare it (how is it or not?), Link it (what do you think of?), Analyze it (what is it made of?) And apply it (how can it be used?) and argue for and / or against (how can you support or oppose it?). – Mark Nichol over DailyWritingTips
Promote uniform participation within a group. “[Brain writing is a strategy] Developed to generate many, many ideas in a short period of time. … Hand out sheets of paper with space for a topic or keyword at the top of the page and space for ideas to be written. It can be a different topic for each person or the same for everyone. Write ideas. Pass the sheet on to the next person who will add more ideas and use the existing ideas to build on them if possible. Keep going until you’re done. ” – Kaila Strong for Social media today
Change perspectives. “Imagine you were someone else – for example, what your main competitor would think about the problem or what a completely independent industry would think about the problem. How would a 5 year old solve your problem? What Would Picasso Do? ” – Anita Campbell of Small Business Trends LLC, via Open forum
Mind map it. “Create a mind map – a constellation of main topics and sub-topics or related points – on a large piece of paper, a whiteboard or other surface that all participants can see, or simply list suggestions in the form of a duty roster.” – Mark Nichol over DailyWritingTips
To attempt Brain warming. “To begin brainwarming, write the goal or problem you need to achieve or solve on a large piece of paper and let your team sit still and write down different methods to approach it with your company’s resources in mind. Once the right resources are found, you have found your solution. ” – – Dr. Tony McCaffrey to the Harvard Business Review over 99U
Allow more ideas to incubate. “If you’ve had a productive session, people will come up with ideas for hours or days after the session. Ask everyone to write down these ideas and submit them later to go along with the main meeting notes. ” – Dean Rieck for Copyblogger
Get help with solo brainstorming
These fun and helpful tools can get those creative juices flowing when brainstorming on your own, and they can also help move your ideas forward after the after-group brainstorming.
Portents Content Idea Generator
Just enter your subject in Portents Content Idea Generator and voila! Heading. And even if what it delivers doesn’t quite fit, it can help you find the right path. Plus, it’s a bit of fun. Just keep clicking “Update” and new heading options will always be provided!
Content idea generator from Quandary
dilemma The idea generator version is a bit more detailed. Once you have registered, you will need to answer a few questions about your company and your customers. It’s well worth the time though as you will then have 360 content ideas to choose from. Like Portent, they don’t all go well together (and may not even be grammatically correct), but it can still come in handy for generating new ideas that you haven’t explored yet.
Osborn showed us how brainstorming can work, and it’s worth maintaining its standards (and maybe creating new ones of your own). The result of this kind of brainstorming is always better and the journey is incredibly fun.
Would you like to use intelligent brainstorming to create a great marketing story for schools? Find out more about working with us.
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