Creatively Generating Ideas & Solving Problems

Creatively Generating Ideas & Solving Problems

By: Roberta Schlehr

 Brainstorming is a method simply defined as a technique to generate ideas quickly and/or to solve a problem. You may or may not have heard the term Thumbnail Sketches. Thumbnail sketches are quickly drawn ideas, I would use this term when teaching graphic design. The thought process with this method is to generate as many ideas as possible, not to judge as you are working but just get your thoughts down on paper (or a tablet if using a digital device). This does involve sketching as described above, and many students felt fearful of this because they didn’t believe they had artistic talents. This is the beauty of thumbnail sketches; you do not need to be an artist! At this stage, you are only generating ideas (as long as you can describe your sketches). Still, this would be hard for some students to overcome. I started using a method with students to first write down as many words as possible with the required task, then they would be able to sketch ideas out from the list of words. Some students needed the word list to visualize the idea.

Example: The task is to create a postcard for a “Day at the Beach”. If students first generate a list of words, it may look like this: sun, sky, sand, water, seagulls, people, kids, blanket, beach ball, sand toys, etc. The next step is to develop and sketch individual words or develop multiple scenes to include the sky with puffy clouds, the sun, a checkered blanket with a beach ball, and sand toys nearby. For

the people and kids use stick figures!

It is important to understand there is no room for judgment at this early stage of brainstorming! Do not “think” about the sketch, whether it is good or not. Simply put – this phase captures initial thoughts and ideas. Once the required number of sketches is generated, then you can start looking at the sketches with potential. Sometimes at this stage ideas can be combined into one or sketches can be developed more thoughtfully. The next step is where you get feedback – constructive feedback from your peers. Constructive feedback is not a critical view of your work but an opportunity to see the potential in the sketches.

Brainstorming is a great tool to use in the office with a group project or to generate ideas for new initiatives. Tools like SWOT (assessing Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats), Mind Mapping, or Role-storming are only a few idea-generating techniques. Use the tools for personal projects like cluttered spaces or storage issues at home. Need to de-stress or change habits (like sleep or diet), use Mind Mapping to list ideas and possible solutions.

Remember it is important to follow through with the brainstorming session – this is the beginning of generating ideas to create solutions to your project or problem. Brainstorming sessions can lead to creative, innovative ideas and results, whether you are in business, education, an entrepreneur, or someone with a problem to solve. Next step — implement your ideas!

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