You need to start a brainstorm with a question, but be careful! The way you formulate this question is vital for a high quality brainstorm, therefore this article will show how to formulate that question well.
When you start a 15 minute brainstorm, the web app asks you to write down a challenge title and description. The challenge title is where you should write down the question for the brainstorm. This question can be about anything: it can be a way to gather multiple solutions for a current problem, but could also be a way to gather new ideas for content marketing for example. In both examples, the way you formulate the question for your team members will decide the outcome a lot.
Brainstorm for questions.
Asking the right question before starting a brainstorm is so important, that some research suggest you should start your brainstorm by brainstorming about questions surrounding the problem statement. Zash would suggest you do this too, but only for more difficult problems like operational strategies.
Let’s take an example. How might we reduce the slack of our production of product X?
It would be a good idea to first brainstorm about ideas surrounding this problem statement, because there are many assumptions when you start off with this question. Why is there more slack while producing product X instead of product Y? Is there a difference in the way we produce different products? Could it be caused by machines or by people?
By asking these questions first, you get the team energized and it provokes thought. Next to that, it might be easier for some people to think about these questions instead of solutions immediately. A brainstorm should only take 15 minutes, so why not start with this?
How to formulate the right question?
The question to ask your team should be flexible, yet specific. That means it should be flexible enough to leave room for creativity, but also specific enough to think about the right solutions. An example.
How can we improve productivity?
That is a very bad question to ask. It is not flexible, because the word ‘can’ already suggests it can or should be implemented. A word like ‘might’ is more flexible, which leaves room for more crazy ideas. Next to that, this question is not specific enough. What kind of productivity? When? A better question would be:
How might we improve productivity during the summer holidays?
McKinsey has a formula that works the same, which supports the previous mentioned theory. McKinsey states that whatever the question is, it should have two characteristics: “They should force your participants to take a new and unfamiliar perspective” and “that it limits the conceptual space your team will explore, without being so restrictive that it forces particular answers or outcomes”.
Now that you have some questions, decide what to brainstorm about. To save some time, why not use our 15 minute brainstorm technique? Look at our website for more information about this free tool!