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Eureka!’ was not shouted in an office conference room.

The brainstorm is what is known as the means for ideas to be created. Everyone brainstorms but what exactly does the mind do when it brainstorms? It seems that all one is doing is thinking, it is not in anyway different from having random thoughts except that there is a funnel and only ideas get through. Countless articles, speeches and empowerment sessions have been given around facilitating the perfect brainstorming technique. It turns out that those efforts may not necessarily be the premium methodology to the brainstorm.

Every office has a moment where the boss says “Okay, everyone in the conference room! We need ideas!” So the group shuffles into the conference room which in some way could be considered an idea factory. The boss is likely not a psychologist and working under circumstances in which they need to deliver. As such any idea is good, there is no such thing therefore, as a bad idea. So the ideas are spewed onto the whiteboard and they are all taken as seriously as the good ideas. This is all fine, but it may not solicit the best ideas.


(A Typical Brainstorming Session)

The idea of brainstorming was developed by Alex Osborn, an advertising executive in need of a method to produce new ideas. He would later write a book on creativity and a method for coming up with ideas. It would serve as the modern backbone for an industry standard. It would also serve to promote a concept of ‘groupthink.’

Groupthink happens when everyone in a room in our case begins to agree on whatever idea is being pitched not because it is good but because he or she thinks other people find it good. Remember the Microsoft Zune? That was groupthink in action. Many would argue the best type of brainstorming yields argument, disagreement and chaos.

If an idea yields controversy then it has something indescribable, it is worth pursuing. Groupthink disables this concept and as such produces sub-par solutions.


(Groupthink Results)

Structuring a time for idea making is perhaps not the best method for creating an idea. This is not to say development sessions are poor in their productions. There is a difference between development of ideas and creation of ideas. The development process is exploring and sourcing concepts in ideas. The birth of these ideas, however, are to be unsolicited.

Unsolicited you say? The best ideas some would argue come when one least expects it. In the shower, while driving, while working and especially before falling asleep. These moments differ in having a designated time to come up with ideas. They are organic and sincere, not something put together with cognitive play-doh.

(Bouncing Ideas off Each Other)

So, what is the best way to brainstorm when coming up with solutions for small entrepreneurs? Well there is no best way, and acknowledging this is the first step to finding a solution. Asking for advice, looking at examples can yield a completely exclusive solution to a very specific and particular issue. Brainstorming in a room may create solutions, and perhaps results, but they arguably do not create the most effective solutions.

Go ahead, take that downtime and brainstorm when you’re not supposed to. That idea may come to you in a Eureka moment when you least expect it.

(Dramatization of Eureka Moments)

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