How Entrepreneurs Brainstorm

Thursday, July 5, 2007 at 9:30pm by Site Administrator

Every entrepreneur will experience times when problems (will) arise and a solution is needed, preferably before anything significant happens.

Brainstorming is a powerful activity for generating solutions to a problem, and a tool for productivity. The act of brainstorming was originally supposed to be a group activity to generate any ideas, without censoring anything. It can, however, be used by a single person if you follow the same rules: record everything and do not let your logical mind censor/filter each thought. Do the filtering after the brainstorming session. You may even want to wait a few hours or a day, if there’s time, in case other ideas present themselves.

Options for  brainstorming:
These are some options for brainstorming, both in technique and in medium, for a single person or a group.

  1. Mindmaps.
    Some people like to use mindmaps for brainstorming. Mindjet‘s MindManager mindmapping program actually has a brainstorming mode that minimizes distractions. It’s a bit disconcerting at first because this mode forces you to follow a process. This is more useful for a single person, not a group, unless used with a projection unit and screen.

  2. Paper.
    Brainstorming on paper can free up “flow” because it’s done on a blank canvas. However, a blank page can be intimidating to some people. This could work for a small group, say of 1-3 people. Ideas still have to be transferred to the digital medium – something e-paper married with a tablet computer may help with in the future.

  3. Lists.
    Some people prefer lists, though they are restrictive in structure, not allowing much ability to branch off with multiple ideas. Accessibility to a group of people depends on what medium is being used. Lists are probably the least useful in brainstorming, though they can supplement other methods. Web-based to-do list software such as Neptune offers some flexibility for recording ideas.

  4. Chalkboards/ whiteboards.
    In a corporate or academic setting, a chalkboard is comfortable, often productive, and visually and physically accessible to all participants. But chalkboards are impermanent. How do you transfer the information easily to more permanent storage? Digital whiteboards solve this problem, digitizing all penstrokes into screen images, storing them for later retrieval. These are typically expensive and thus not ideal for bootstrapping entrepreneurs.

  5. Audio recordings.
    Audio recordings aren’t so much a way to brainstorm but rather a way to preserve ideas while on the go, when paper isn’t handy or might be inconvenient (such as while driving). In such cases, a mini cassette or digital recorder – even some smart phones – comes in handy. Record your thoughts vocally, then review at a more convenient time. This is ideal for individuals with a tendency to censor their own ideas.  Depending on how you record, you might turn your recordings into podcasts, with a bit of production effort.

  6. Video recordings.
    An alternative to audio recording is video recording, and can include an entire group’s discussions, anything written on a blackboard or whiteboard, and any verbal discussions or physical acting out of ideas. Video cameras are relatively inexpensive, so setting up a couple on tripods and letting them run is often feasible for a small business. Anything recorded would be reviewed later by a smaller group of people. Videos can be posted on various video sharing sites, to make them accessible to remote team members. Just remember to use a privacy setting.

  7. Weblog or forum.
    If you have a popular weblog or forum, present questions to readers/ members. Ask them to comment. This could be a very effective way to produce solutions.

These are only a few methods and mediums. If you can think of others, please feel free to comment.


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Filed under: Productivity, Skills

1 Comment »

  1. Nice post!

    Mindmapping is a great tool. And there’s an online resource too – it’s called MindMeister.com – that is great for people who don’t want a full fledged desktop application. One cool thing about it is that you can collaborate with others too.

    ~ Annie

    Comment by Annie — September 6, 2007 @ 4:14 pm

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