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How do I generate more ideas brainstorming?

consulting
New answer on Feb 29, 2024
7 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Feb 11, 2024

take too long to think of ideas, any good ways to be more creative, both with the buckets and ideas under them?

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Sascha
Expert
replied on Feb 12, 2024
Accenture | Digital Strategist | Empathic Case & Career Coach | Personalized sessions & training

Hey 👋

First of all as already said, I would try to practice as much as possible and also try to practice with peers, friends or with a community. The latter you can for example find on LinkedIn 😊 Working with others helps you to spark your own flow of ideas and maybe even shows you some creative out-of-the box solutions that you did not think about yourself. This way you can train to think in new directions.

If it comes to methods that can help you improve you idea flow here are three I personally find very helpful:

  • Starbursting: This technique involves asking as many questions as possible about your problem or goal, using who, what, when, where, why, and how. This helps you explore different aspects and perspectives of your problem or goal, and identify gaps or opportunities for improvement. For example, if your goal is to launch a new product, you can ask questions like: Who are the target customers? What are their needs and pain points? When is the best time to launch? Where will the product be sold? Why would customers buy it? How will the product be marketed?
  • Word association: This technique involves choosing a random word and using it as a trigger for generating ideas related to your problem or goal. You can use a dictionary, a book, or an online tool to pick a random word, or ask someone else to give you one. Then, you can use the word to create associations, metaphors, analogies, or connections with your problem or goal. For example, if your problem is to increase employee engagement, and the random word is “cake”, you can think of ideas like: celebrating achievements with cake, having a cake baking contest, offering cake as a reward for feedback, etc.
  • SCAMPER: This method can help you generate more ideas, enhance existing ideas, and find new ways to solve problems. It can also stimulate your creativity and innovation, and encourage you to think from different perspectives. It involves using seven different types of questions to modify or improve an existing idea or product. The questions are:
    • Substitute: What can you replace or change in the idea or product?
    • Combine: What can you merge or integrate with the idea or product?
    • Adapt: What can you copy or modify from another idea or product?
    • Modify: What can you increase or decrease in the idea or product?
    • Put to another use: What can you use the idea or product for, other than its original purpose?
    • Eliminate: What can you remove or simplify in the idea or product?
    • Reverse: What can you invert or rearrange in the idea or product?

If you are looking for even more methods, maybe this will help you: 29 Brainstorming Techniques for Creativity [2023] • Asana

All the best,

Sascha 

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Ian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Feb 12, 2024
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi there,

Remember, brainstorming is not just about ideas. It's still about structure and structured thinking (think: mini frameworking)

You need to picture yourself at the client site, in front of a whiteboard, with your team, figuring out what you need to do next on this project. Truly reflect on what you need, what you're missing, or what you don't currently understand about the situation. Then, ask questions (where needed) .

Some other concrete tips includes:

  1. Practice/Prepare - The more you practice cases, read case studies and articles (The Economist, The FT, etc), the more "example" you'll have, as you just have more base knowledge to work with.
  2. Repivot and Frame - Pause. And look at the ideas you've come up with. Talk to the interview while you frame/group them. This 1) Shows them you can organise your thoughts 2) Helps you gain some time AND identify potential holes yourself 3) Gives them a window to point you in the right direction (they might say "Ok, that's a good bucket, but it's missing something" or " You're missing a bucket that relates to what you';ve said here")
  3. Ask for Help - This is a tricky one to navigate, but you can ask questions or make statements that try to glean more information from them. For example, "I'm out of ideas, but have any competitors excelled in any areas"..."Do we have any analysis on this?"..."etc. etc.
  4. Daily Reading
  5. Industry Deep Dives

If you want to practice this, please feel free PM me. I've helped countless people with this through intensive exercises - you'll see dramatic results after just one session.

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Francesco
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Feb 14, 2024
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ InterviewOffers.com) | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

Q: How do I generate more ideas brainstorming?

In most cases, a lack of creativity is linked to a lack of foundation in structuring. To get specific examples, I would recommend posting an example of a question for which you found challenging to be creative, we can then help to identify the issue more easily.

In general, to be more creative you can:

  1. Ask for one minute to structure your thoughts
  2. Present a first level of the structure with MECE areas
    • You can do this even if you have never heard that question before. If you have no idea of how to structure a first level, you can use a structure as X vs Non-X
    • Potential examples include: Long-term vs Short-term; Current vs New; Financial vs Non-financial
    • The more you practice cases in the right way, the more you will be able to derive appropriate MECE areas fitting a case
  3. Brainstorm options in each area
    • Your creativity in this area is directly correlated with the number of cases you have done
    • If you are weak in creativity for one specific industry, a good strategy is to check cases of a good consulting MBA casebook for that industry
    • There are many casebooks available for free online – although not all are good. Screen the list for the industries interesting to you and work on them. MBA casebooks are usually not good in terms of the structure of the case but can help to develop creativity

Below you can find an example of how to brainstorm in a structured way.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Interviewer. So, generally speaking, how would you decrease the cost of raw materials?

► STEP 1: ASK FOR ONE MINUTE OF TIME

Interviewee. That’s an interesting question. Do you mind if I take 1 minute to think about it?

Interviewer. Please take your time.

► STEP 2: IDENTIFY MECE AREAS

Interviewee. Thanks; I believe there are two key areas to decrease the cost of raw material; we may decrease the cost of each unit or decrease the number of units we buy. I would like now to go a bit deeper into these two components.

(Note that even if you are brainstorming, you are first presenting a list of the MECE areas. This is fundamental to brainstorm correctly)

► STEP 3: BRAINSTORM OPTIONS IN EACH AREA

Interviewee. Well, to decrease the cost per unit we may do a couple of things, keeping in mind we want to maintain revenues at the same level:

  1. we may negotiate a lower price;
  2. we may look for other suppliers.

In order to decrease the number of units, we may do the following:

  1. we may start to use a more efficient technology for our raw material, so that we have less waste;
  2. we may use a new kind of raw material for which there is less waste.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hope this helps,

Francesco

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Anonymous B replied on Feb 11, 2024

Check Crafting Cases’s free course. They offer amazing material to develop Brainstorming and Structuring strategies 

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Ian on Feb 12, 2024

Second this! Their course + mine both focus heavily on the HOW/WHY of frameworking (as opposed to the memorized "what" of most sites)

Cristian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Feb 12, 2024
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

Yes. 

One exercise you should try. 

Forget about the timer. 

Instead, try to take as much time as you want to come up with the max possible number of ideas you can generate. Then check the answer in the case book to see what other ideas you could take from there to make your answer better (don't assume the answer in the case book has the absolute truth, but it is rather a version, a potential answer). 

This will help expand your lateral thinking and help you develop new patterns. 

Gradually, you can reintroduce time pressure as the interviews come nearer. 

Best,
Cristian

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Udayan
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Feb 11, 2024
Top rated McKinsey Case & PEI coach/Multiple real offers/McKinsey EM in New York /6 years McKinsey recruiting experience

A simple tip that I like is …..to practice!

Brainstorming is a skill and like with any skill you get better with practice. So take time to do brainstorming exercises all day (you can make fun ones up for yourself - e.g., if you open your fridge, think of how many meals you can make with the ingredients in there and keep going for as long as possible)

 

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Pedro
Expert
replied on Feb 29, 2024
Bain | EY-Parthenon | Roland Berger | Market Sizing Expert | 30% discount in Feb & March

Brainstorming is not about generating ideas, is about generating structure. When you start learning how to generate structure, and developing some mental maps, you start having tons of ideas on the spot for most problems.

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