If you think that there is only one basic way to run an effective brainstorming session, then you are mistaken. We may suggest interesting approaches to make the process more productive and efficient.

Experienced brainstorm facilitators typically apply more than one methodology in a single session to stimulate creative vibes and support various styles of thought and expression.

You may start with the most simple one or arrange a basic brainstorming and then switch on more complex solutions to ensure you generate a good quantity of creative ideas.

What is a brainstorming session?

If you have a vague idea of brainstorming in general, then follow this brief description of the process. Here’s how basic brainstorming works:

  1. Gather a group of people to address an issue, challenge, or opportunity to discuss it. Choose the appropriate brainstorming tool or some of them.
  2. Let participants generate as many ideas as possible, considering even the weirdest thoughts. No criticism is allowed.
  3. Review these ideas and chose the most interesting. Conduct a discussion about how to implement and improve these ideas.

However, sometimes it’s not always easy to generate new ideas from nowhere. That’s why a variety of outstanding and powerful brainstorming techniques have been created. They include many alternative exercises for tackling problems and developing new solutions individually and in a group. 

What’s the best way to brainstorm? Let’s delve into some excellent methods right now.

10 brainstorming techniques for effective teams

How to run a brainstorm session?

Image source: Unsplash.com (C. Deluvio)

1. Stepladder technique

This popular style of brainstorming was developed almost 30 years ago. It encourages every participant to contribute individually before being influenced by everyone else in a team.

The typical session requires a facilitator and it begins with sharing the topic with the entire team. When the topic is shared, all team players leave the room except two participants. 

These two people discuss the topic and possible ideas. Then, one additional member is added to the group and contributes their ideas before the other two discuss theirs. The cycle repeats until everyone is in the room. 

This approach minimizes group thinking when one or two members hold sway over everyone else. It helps to encourage shy people to share their ideas without feeling intimidated by a room full of their colleagues. 

The Stepladder Technique is considered to be one of the most mature brainstorming methodologies as it involves both an individual and a group participation aspect. The method will be useful for medium-sized groups of 10-15 people.

2. Storyboarding

Storyboarding defines where your understanding of a problem supports or conflicts with a proposed solution, also identifying if more research is needed. 

According to the methodology, your team should develop a visual story. It will help the team to explore the problem as a narrative. Everyone will be able to see how ideas interact and connect to form a solution. 

They will need a whiteboard and sticky notes to write down their ideas. Even small theses, quotes, or brief user info may help to see new relationships between different components.

Groups of related sticky notes to work from should be arranged on the board as a progression: first this, then that. This kind of ideas organization will help your team to see new connections and eliminate extra issues that don’t support your end goal.

3. Mind mapping 

Another visual approach for enhancing the brainstorming process is Mind Mapping. The technique, in essence, includes drawing a big picture of the relationships between your ideas. 

A facilitator starts with writing a goal or challenge, asking team players to think about related issues. Then they should add content to the map layer by layer to visualize how, for example, a technical problem with communication channels is contributing to the issues related to quarterly income.

To use this method, you’ll need a large piece of paper with a few markers or apply special online management software.

4. Reverse brainstorming

An ordinary brainstorming session means asking participants to solve problems. Reverse brainstorming requires asking team members to create and communicate the ways to cause a problem. 

“How can we cause this?” is a major question here. When you get a list of efficient ways to come up with problems, you are ready to solve them.

5. Five Whys method

If you want to variegate your brainstorming meetings, the Five Whys method is aimed to help your team and you and be effective in getting thought processes moving forward. 

The main idea of the technique is simply starting with a problem you’re addressing and asking “Why is this happening?” 

When you get some answers, ask “Why does this happen?” You need to continue the process 5+ times, digging deeper until you’ve come to the issue’s roots.

6. Brain-netting (online brainstorming)

The brain-netting approach involves brainstorming sessions via the Internet. This event requires setting a system where individuals can share their ideas privately and then collaborate. 

Nowadays you may try a variety of online solutions for this aim, for example, Google Docs or Slack, or apply more powerful multifunctional project management software, such as Trello, Hygger, Wrike, or others. 

After generating ideas, it may be useful to come together in person; however, an online discussion will be successful on its own.

7. Role storming

The main idea of this type of brainstorming is asking participants to imagine themselves in the role of a specific person related to the brainstorming goal (a customer, stakeholder, service provider, an opinion leader, or even a celebrity). 

Sometimes it’s rather useful to add some informal atmosphere and act a scene with participants pretending to take the other’s point of view.

Secrets of successful brainstorming sessions

Image source: Unsplash.com (D. Gillis)

8. Rapid ideation

The conditions for running this technique may seem too simple but they are really fruitful sometimes. Ask your colleagues to write down as many ideas as they can in a given period of time. 

Then ask them to share these ideas aloud. You’ll find certain ideas popping up over and over again. Sometimes it will be an obvious set of ideas, but in some cases, they may provide some revelations.

9. Brainwriting 

You may also know this technique as Slip Writing or Crawford Slip Writing because the basic approach was invented by professor Crawford in the 1920s.

This process means having each participant anonymously write down ideas on cards. 

Then these ideas are randomly shared with other team members who add to or critique the ideas. Besides, these anonymous ideas can be collected and analyzed by the management team.

10. Round Robin brainstorming

Round Robin is a fun game approach in which each brainstorming participant gets a chance to express his/her opinion and attitude.

Everyone must share an idea and wait until others have shared it before suggesting the next idea or critiquing ideas. 

This approach is good for teams with shy or uninterested individuals to speak up. It keeps dominant personalities from taking over the brainstorming session.


After all, do not think that brainstorming is just a fun activity that can be skipped. Do not be lazy to keep this process both efficient and productive. 

Brainstorming may become a terrific practice in your company. Applying one or several methods for idea generation described above, you will be able to discover fatal flaws and develop creative solutions.

The better you are at choosing a brainstorming technique, selecting participants, and encouraging discussion, the better your outcomes are likely to be.  

Does your team brainstorm efficiently? What other approaches has your company used for successful brainstorming? Please, feel free to share in the comments!