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Brainstorming and the creative process

Brainstorming is a creative technique used to bring out ideas and solutions with the goal of solving a specific problem. The term comes from the union of two words, “brain” and “storm” and literally means “brain storm.” It is a technique widely used in both educational and business fields and has the ultimate goal of generating shared solutions, stimulating the creativity and productivity of all resources involved. The free sharing of insights and ideas is able to generate new creative thoughts greatly increasing team working and the sinergy among members of the same Team.

Dealing with design in most cases means having to be creative on demand. Designers, therefore, in addition to dealing with clients, contracts, and deadlines that must be met, must be creative on demand, on commission, and must do so within the predetermined deadline to be considered professional. Brainstorming can help precisely to improve the workflow and make the creative process more effective when it is most needed, i.e., when the delivery deadline is near.

Below we will look at some of the most popular techniques used by designers around the world to brainstorm effectively.

1. Making mind maps

The mind map or mind map, is one of the best known and most widely used brainstorming techniques. Mind maps are one of those techniques that can be good for both when working in a group and when designing alone. Mindmapping is a visual technique for stimulating and harnessing personal and group creative abilities through the free mental association of elements around a central theme.

Brainstorming and the creative process

2. Draw up a list of associated words.

This method of brainstorming is similar to mind maps and can be equally effective if used in the right way. Here are the steps to follow:

  • Take a blank sheet of paper and divide it into three columns. In the first, write down as many words and concepts as you can think of related to the initial problem you need to solve.
  • In the second column, select one of the ideas that stimulated you the most from the list of words in the first column and write another set of words related to the one you selected.
  • In the third and final column, write a list of words that are the total opposite of those you wrote in the first column.
  • Circle and link together the words that most interested you from the three columns. In this way you will come up with excellent ideas that you will then have to put into practice.

3. Making sketches

To brainstorm well through drawing, take a sheet of paper or your graphics tablet, and start drawing pictures, writing words and sketching layouts freely, always associating various shapes, words and drawings. Every five minutes it will be helpful to get up from your seat, step back and look at the paper from a different perspective. In this way the mind will be able to focus automatically on the forms that can lead to further possibilities.

If you are in a group, an interesting and fun way to brainstorm through sketches is to exchange the sheets with the various sketches among group members so that they can share ideas with each other and unleash creativity.

4. Making image associations

Making image associations is sort of in between making sketches and building mind-maps. First, you need to print photographs and illustrations that can be related to the project you are working on. After that it is time to group the various images according to thematic areas to make them “communicate” with each other, and then try writing words to describe these groupings.

However, the effectiveness of this method is reduced when compared with the other methods because it is less convenient from the point of view of time management.

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