Isn’t it interesting to reflect that often we have a problem to solve and we just don’t know how?  At every turn we see Stop signs, causing us to come to an abrupt halt and ultimately which gets in our way of solving ‘said’ problem. A “stuckness”.

Now the concept of “brainstorming” is an interesting one…. Being the visual person that I am, I picture my mind full of clouds/thunder and lightening…   The clouds make it difficult for me to see, the thunder causes noise that distracts me but the lightening is the part that I love… The prospect of seeing the light and harnessing the energy….   For a moment, draw in your mind a picture of what your brain would look like when brainstorming?


Ok, so the traditional way to brainstorm is to just put down ideas – and once you have a list, one should definitely solve the problem (more often than not we find this to NOT be the case) – do you agree?  Its great to brainstorm with others as then on our list comes things that we may not have thought about… and in workshops this process is used with teams to find creative solutions.  The beauty is that you – yes you have the power within you to find a creative solution.  Have I tweeked your interest?

Lets look at how….

First: be clear on what is the problem that you are wanting to solve?  Often we get sidetracked by solving the wrong problem. Einstein had a wonderful quote where he said “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I would spend 55 minutes defining the problem and only 5 minutes finding the solution.”

The problem I want to solve is:……………………………………….

Then start listing ideas…. However before you do bear the following in mind:

  1. Do not limit your thinking… what I mean by that is traditionally we list something and then immediately jump to all the reasons why this would not be a good idea. So my challenge to you is DON’T go there…. Just put down every single thing that comes into your head which may be able to solve the problem… no matter how nonsensical or ridiculous it may seem
  2. Don’t worry about what order you are putting the things down in… it doesn’t matter. You can always sort through this later.
  3. If an idea comes up which looks similar to another, still list it…. As your wording may be the significant difference of the end result…

Then write……… and write and write ……  got it?  Now do it…..

When you have run out of steam, sit back and take a breather….

Catch yourself from going into monkey talk (those negative thoughts which take over our thinking when we feel uncertain).  Remember that what you think will be, will be so avoid being critical of the list ie “ I only have 2 things on the list – these ideas look stupid – I don’t know?  If I knew I would have solved this already – what am I doing this for?”

Now ask yourself – “What else?  What am I not thinking of?  What am I not seeing?  What other solution could I find?”  – picture yourself clearing away the clouds in your mind to find the light… this is where the lightening strikes and the brain starts firing… this is where one pushes oneself and the magic of brainstorming actually happens… Push yourself to come up with at least 2 new things…. Refuse to give up without finding something new…    What else?  What else? What else?

Right – have you tried it?  The principle to remember about brainstorming is that the most obvious things will come up when we start, the magic happens though when you keep pushing without being critical of the ideas, those things which are not initially at the top of your mind or  obvious.

Now you can start with the ‘critical’ thinking.  Going through the list and add to it by asking yourself:

  • What would get in the way of this?
  • What would need to be in place to make this happen?
  • Is this long term or short term? If the answer is long term, what would the short term solution be? (and Visa versa).
  • Why do I think that this is the right solution? Am I making assumptions? And if so what?
  • Can I group this with another idea on the list? Are they the same?  What is the difference between the two?

Got your list?  Anything stand out for you?  If not  – take a break and make an appointment with yourself to continue… If so share the entire list with a trusted colleague and review together…. Two heads are always better than one…

Good luck – you are sure to find rainbows at the end of your storm…