Video Transcript

Brainstorm better with James Manktelow & Amy Carlson.

James Manktelow: Hello. I'm James Manktelow, CEO of, home to hundreds of free career-building tools and resources.

Amy Carlson: And I'm Amy Carlson from Mind Tools. We're going to talk about brainstorming – a popular and effective technique for developing creative solutions to a problem.

JM: Brainstorming is often used in a business setting to encourage teams to come up with original ideas. It's a free-wheeling meeting format, in which the leader sets out the problem that needs to be solved. Participants then suggest ideas for solving the problem, and build on ideas suggested by others. A firm rule is that ideas must not be criticized – they can be completely wacky and way out. This frees people up to explore ideas creatively and break out of established thinking patterns.

AC: Everyone in the group is free to announce any ideas they have about the topic in hand. At times, the ideas may seem a bit bizarre, but with the help of the group, some of them can be honed into really innovative and workable solutions.

JM: It's also useful to brainstorm on your own. When you don't have to worry about other people's opinions – you can often think up more ideas like this. However, the development of those ideas is often better in a group, when you can tap into other people's views and experience.

AC: It pays to run your group brainstorming sessions properly, which means following a number of guidelines. First, clearly define the problem you want to solve and lay out any criteria that need to be met. Then make sure the session stays focused on the problem.

The participants should come from as wide a range of disciplines as possible, so that the ideas represent a broad spectrum of experience and perspectives. It's really important that no one criticizes or evaluates any of the ideas that come up. This will make people scared to express their thoughts and the session will grind to a halt.

So encourage an enthusiastic, uncritical atmosphere in the room, and try to get everyone to contribute something, even the quietest members of the group.

JM: If you find that creativity starts to dry up anyway, you can stimulate more ideas by seeding the session with random words.

AC: One person should be in charge of jotting down the ideas that come out in the session, either on paper or on a flip chart. Or you may want to consider using a computer-based tool for group brainstorming. There are several available, and they can improve the effectiveness of your session.

JM: As well as generating some great solutions to specific problems, brainstorming can be a lot of fun, which can only be good for your team.

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Comments (8)
  • Over a month ago bigk wrote
    Hi bigboss

    What is your motivation to do programming?

    Is this because you have good math and you could use this skill with programming?
    There other ways to use math like accountancy or audit and engineering.

    However if you mean the math element is a strength and you want to quickly add extra items to your skill set then math and programming do fit together.

    Programing does need team interaction skills but if you want to fit in the team and have a manager or leader to develop your team skills or improve your own personal or team skills this will need you to use your strengths to develop these skills while doing something that interests you.

    You can develop not only your math skills but use these strengths to develop your other skills although you see these at present as a skill to be developed and not a skill that is immediately available or useable by you in a team setting.
    If this is not one of your motivations or is useable in the work setting, you might want to find a way to become confident and position your skills to improve what you feel about team work.

    A team lead might want to use your math or programming skills but will still want to find ways to use your team interaction skills and use of your valuable team member skills but will want to understand what or why you feel you feel you have no team or self interaction skills to use with the other team members.

    A team needs it's members to interact together, software development is no different although the specialist skills required to develop software might need social and interaction skills rather than just technical skills, to be useful to each other you will need to become more confident about positioning your team member skills to be able to interact with other team members.

    Remember you need to find ways to develop these skills although your main efforts might be towards developing the programming skills to do the job.

    Is there a particular issue you feel you need more development with interacting or is this a question about confidence or the positioning of your technical or social skills?
    If this is the people or team skills you want to develop further while being able to focus mostly on the technical skills needed to develop software, you will need to consider how you position these skills to the work area?

    Happy to offer more help if I can do so...

  • Over a month ago bigboss wrote

    I have done my own SWOT analysis.

    One of my strengths is math, and my weakness is social interaction and copywriting.

    So I think could software building or programming be the "right brand" and "righ career" for me?

    I have (of course) used computer, but I have no experience or education in software building or programming. (And of course this is the reason why I ask this question).
  • Over a month ago Helena wrote
    Hi Zaheer

    You've obviously got a good grasp already of how the results of a SWOT analysis can provide their own solution - as you say:

    How do we use the strengths with the opportunities, strengths to beat the threats etc..?

    A good way to start figuring this out is to use TOWS analysis which will show you how to figure this out. Our article on TOWS analysis is here: ... STR_89.php

    Best wishes

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