THE DESIGN STUDIO: Brainstorming
When in the midst of brainstorming, I like to have at the ready my planner, either a notebook or sketchbook, a couple writing utensils, and, preferably, a delicious breakfast.
When we conduct our weekly sophietheblog brainstorming meetings, there are a couple things that we try to keep consistent to keep us on schedule and topic. As with any meeting or conceptual conversations (whether alone or with another person/group), starting out with a list or agenda, no matter how simple or informal, is the very best way to insure productivity. For me, it's even being able to see at least a few key words of what I'd like to focus on that helps keep me centered on what I'd like most to accomplish. While you should always be ready for inspiration to strike, having a couple of consistent rituals can help to make a task feel more natural. This is why we always do our collective brainstorming over breakfast. Whether we are at a local coffee shop, hosting at one of our own homes, or our new favorite breakfast joint, The Bad Waitress, we try keep things consistent with meeting during the best meal of the day.
If you are brainstorming with more than just yourself, it's good to have a moderator or someone to take on more of a leadership position to keep everyone on the same page. A second person is handy to have take notes on everything, good and not-so-good ideas. Even if an idea seems ridiculous, absolutely nothing is off-limits during this part of the creative process. The moderator should be prepared to pose broad, general questions or discussion topics that evolve into more specific and detailed plans by the end of discussion.
If possible, it's very useful to get an outside opinion. Whether it comes from friends or family, getting out of your own "bubble" can be wonderfully enlightening. It's all about trying your best to think of things a little differently and being open to those different ideas. Even just forcing yourself to play devil's advocate can be extremely useful when trying to approach an idea or problem from all possible angles. Again, every idea can be a useful step toward your main focus and goal.
The thing with brainstorming is that it should be kind-of like an actual storm: probably a little bit of a slow and pensive start, hopefully followed by a gusting of ideas, good and bad. There could be a bit of a lull, but that could easily be when everything is just about to come together. All of a sudden, BAM! You've got it!
Hang on for the ride, it can go anywhere.
Here are a couple of our favorite brainstorming tools from one of our favorite shops, Paper Source, that make the process even more fun!