Skip to main content
Graphic Design

7 Simple Yet Effective Strategy For Brainstorming

By July 2, 2018December 16th, 2018No Comments8 min read

The approach to problem-solving has evolved with design thinking, with the common phenomenon of the solution being focused on the user?s needs.

As the design thinking being defined with brainstorming, iteration, and testing, it has enabled the organization, companies, and businesses to provide the right kind of solutions to the user’s problems.

Brainstorming as a method of generating ideas to solve a design problem, it also allows validation of the same solutions before the development and further user-centered design.

The focus to Design Thinking is to approach the process with the goal of finding actionable results ? exploring on the possibility of ideas in a free-thinking environment that is thought all around, thereby proving a wide scope of the solution.

Often, design and collaboration go hand in hand.

You will find out while discussing users needs, new ideas, and brainstorm solutions, it serves?to bring the team together.?However, this does not guarantee creative outputs and ideas.

A discussion if not well regulated can be misdirection, unfocused, and brainstormed solutions end up scattered with no linking to build on the project.

Consider collaboration, it comes in many forms, from small informal working sessions and group critiques to well-organized workshops.

Workshops are often an opportunity for a team to untangle a problem together by going through a series of exercises designed to get to a specific outcome.

They?re about getting stuff done, and are often used as milestones in attaining a given objective.

Here are the strategies in running a successful brainstorming in Design Projects.


#1: Start with the Outline

Before beginning the design phase of brainstorming and the development of the project, it is helpful to create an overview roadmap of the project.

Your team is able to identify with the structure of the entire process when discussing and creating the pages and elements of a project.


Read More on How to Write A Good Design Brief That Will Actually Drive Result


Get the plan of your project brainstorming in place by answering these basic questions:

  • What is the goal of the project?
  • Who needs to attend?
  • What do you want to take out of the room?
  • What date will it be? How long will it run?
  • Where will the session be held?


In a few sentences, define the goal. Write out the reason for having the session.

You could have it in a Google Doc and share with key stakeholders and get feedback when planning.

Try to communicate your goals in clarity and in a form of actions. For example, these were the goals we ran with the team:

  • To come together as a team to discuss our vision of Simpaul Design
  • To brainstorm & design concepts for our products
  • To draft key principles we should consider in approaching our market
  • To have fun!:)

From your goals and the number of people invited, find a date and roughly estimate how long it will take.

Know that this estimate will likely change, but having a rough number will help you plan, like where it will be or what exercises to run with the team.

The environment should feel fluid and open to encourage dialogue among the team.

Ensure there?s plenty of space and whiteboards or flipcharts if possible.

Think about what kind of space your session needs, considering its length, goals, and number of people.

The point is also for everyone to actively contribute, so it?s best to keep numbers relatively low. a group of 5-8 people, for instance, tends to be big enough for wide varying ideas, but small enough for everyone to still participate fully.

It?s helpful at this stage to bring in stakeholders with different perspectives, and especially in communication or generating solutions.

Have this in mind as you cross check through your collaborator’s list.


#2: Define the problem/brief

There?s nothing difficult than people providing a solution for a not well-defined problem. It is even way difficult when the team has no goals for the sessions.

With a rough overview in place for the session, define the problem/brief.

To have an impact on your target audience by your solutions, first, understand the diverse customer segment as a business in trying to reach out.

Secondly, go through the goals you listed, and have a clearly defined problem.

To make it simple, the problem/brief shape the session. The idea is not to limit?the number of ideas.

Also, If you aren?t sure who you want to reach out with the value you deliver, it is prudent to know who the ideal customers are.

Organize your trail of activities into distinct segments of your workshop. For each section, have a rough time allocated, as the whole plan becomes clear you could readjust on a length of the workshop.


Read More on How Designers Solve Problems in Any Design Project.


#3. Encourage weird ideas

Conducting a successful brainstorm is all about making people feel comfortable enough to toss around ideas.

But this isn?t always easy.

Give a few minutes to each person to walk through what they came up with, and build in extra buffer time if possible to allow for conversation.

As people are coming to for the workshop from a variety of backgrounds, so their environs might influence their perception with possible ideas to solve problems.

Avoid the common problems of folks talking over one another, having one share all the ideas while other?s ideas getting discounted.

No matter how experienced a team is, always take a minute to go over some ground rules for brainstorming before starting.

A quick run-through gets everyone on the same page and gives an upper hand for a productive session.


#4. Be mindful of brainstorming

To help get everyone connected to the concepts as the facilitator, encourage the team to have a couple of examples or real life illustration to wrap the whole idea.

As people seem to respond well to their informal and inherently creative nature this is a good way to ease into brainstorming.

With that, you can start the conversation and spark ideas.

Ask questions and introduce constraints in the process of brainstorming; for instance, What if we had a million dollars to solve the problem? What if we had to deliver it in two weeks?

Depending on the team dynamics, it’s helpful to split the brainstorming into two sections. First, spend a few minutes getting everyone to jot down their own ideas on a sticky note. Later have them get up and share on a whiteboard.

Build on top of ideas on the board while allowing everyone a chance to share their initial thoughts.


Here is the basic structure of what your brainstorming session needs to include:

Jotting down any idea that comes up

Sketching and doodling

Interlink the ideas to the goal of the project

Elaborating on concepts that are the most promising with illustration or examples

Looking for the connections between your ideas

Combining ideas and concepts that are related


According to IDEO?s the rules for brainstorming:

  • Defer judgment
  • Encourage wild ideas
  • Build on the ideas of others
  • Stay focused on the topic
  • One conversation at a time
  • Be visual
  • Go for quantity


#5. Stay Visual with Your ideas

Sketches and dribbles are often the most tangible output in a workshop, allowing everyone to explore concepts on their own.

Ideas are brought to life through sketches and it helps others see things in different ways.

Have a balance between freedom and constraints. Let the team have enough time and space to sketch out ideas, but constrain them to encourage creativity.

Basically, it?s never enough to have individual sketches of ideas, so share them around to have a discussion, testing and prototyping the feasibility of the idea.

It?s important to note, the goal of sketching out ideas when brainstorming is to go for quantity, and not quality. So, with a team, you’ll have time to explore ideas. You could, go deep on a few concepts and get attached to them.

Think rationally and cut back on the ideas, the more you get out all your ideas, the more confident you?ll be with your ultimate solution.

Sketching let your ideas flow, unfettered, and get a brain-dump of all possibilities.


#6. Be Inclusive in Ideation

Share responsibilities to helps everyone feel involved and important in the process.

When having a presentation, changing the person who presents adds the benefit of keeping the session feeling fresh, and so the audience will not be bored by the monotony of just one person talking for hours.

Don?t be afraid to ask for help, consider pulling in teammates to flesh out sections of the workshop.

If you?re the one facilitating the session it can feel totally overwhelming to not only plan and run the brainstorming session but also to ideate around the content needed.

So, though you might be the most knowledgeable about a product or service, you could ask other designers to prepare an elevator pitch with analogous examples.


#7. Keep track of time

Keep an eye on the time to stay on track, but do this subtly.

Depending on the problem?s complexity, set a time limit for each session. Timing activities accurately is an art.

Have an estimate for how long something will take, but expect this to be fluid in reality and be prepared to roll with the punches on the day of.

When it comes to time, the best experiences is for everyone to feel natural and lightweight. Some facts, it?s hard to brainstorm and be creative under the constraints of time.

As a facilitator, simply announce the time for an exercise and then keep an eye on the clock but put your attendees at ease. Though it is an extra effort ? but it will be a better experience for the team.

Have a single conversation at a time and track time in this way while allowing turn-taking for everyone?s ideas is essential for arriving at concrete results.



Organizing and facilitating a brainstorm session can be challenging. But by bringing together the right people and plan, brainstorming will become an important part of your team?s process to kick-off projects, discuss problems and develop new solutions.

As the one facilitating the session, being deliberate and thoughtful in how you structure the sessions will pay off as your team iterate solutions.

Are there any other brainstorming tips and tricks you have found effective in your workshop?


Paul S

Founder and Team Lead of Simpaul Design, a brand strategy and design agency in Nairobi, Kenya. Here at Simpaul Design, we work with brands across various categories with a focus on connecting with consumers and building brands that people want to be a part of. We specialize in brand identity and strategy, UX/UI, and brand transformation.