Special Grab Bag: Brainstorming & Creativity

I’ve been learning more about tools and processes that support brainstorming and creativity. Here are a few articles that recently caught my attention:

TOP OF THE LIST: How to run a brainstorming meeting, by Scott Berkun, UIweb. Brainstorming doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Ultimately, the point is to affect your personal or group decisions and actions. Berkun writes, “The most important thing about a brainstorming session is what happens after it ends. No matter how poorly you run a brainstorming meeting, some decent ideas will surface. But depending on what happens after the session, those ideas may or may not impact anything.”

Read the rest of the list…

  • Empty your tea cup, from StoryBlog. This fun little Zen story will help you remember that, like learning, brainstorming can’t work if you don’t keep an open mind.

  • Content, Mapping, and Playing with Cards, by Michael Knowles, WriteThinking: Here, Knowles expands on my modest list of creativity/brainstorming tools. My favorite idea of his: “I learned a lot about creativity from the way they played with Legos. What if there were a tool that allowed us to connect and disconnect ideas as easily?”

  • How to use mind mapping software for project management, by Chuck Frey. OK, this article isn’t about brainstorming or creativity per se, but “mind mapping” is a technique that can be used as part of a brainstorming process. I especially like this tip: “Do a brain dump, then organize: When you first create your project map, don’t worry about structure and hierarchy. Just do a “brain dump” into a new map; you can always move items around and restructure your map later.

  • How to be creative, from GapingVoid. 13 succinct, practical, surprising points – plus a cartoon. Who could ask for anything more? My favorite point: “Don’t try to stand out from the crowd; avoid crowds altogether.”

  • Idea Facilitation Tips, by Joyce Wyckoff, is a pretty good back-to-basics piece on what seems to be the more conventional approach to groups brainstorming. It’s a good refresher if you feel that your group’s brainstorming process is getting off-track.

  • The power of ripples, by Curt Rosengren. OK, once again this piece isn’t about brainstorming or creativity per se, but I see it as a reminder of the ongoing importance of being creative and willing to speak up about (and try) new ideas. Plus, I think Rosengren also has defined my current job description better than I could have: “In my own journey, one of the things I am coming to understand is how important the idea of being a catalyst is for me – throwing the pebble in the pond and being the source of ripples, which then do their own thing.”

  • And here’s the even bigger picture: Thought is the Most Productive Form of Work (Not), by Rebecca Ryan. Don’t forget to play! Brainstorming can be a kind of play, even though it’s likely to be at least a bit awkward.

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