Brainstorming is simple. All you need is to have a goal or a problem you are trying to solve and a method to record your ideas. Then, you write down whatever idea comes to your mind, regardless of how silly or impossible it seems. The key is to write even ideas that sound completely silly and irrelevant because it lets the juices flow and opens up the creative process. Often you may think of one, two, or three ideas, and then stop. Don’t! Continue brainstorming for a set amount of time, or until you reach ten or twelve ideas or more. It’s often the case that the absurd, impossible ideas that are at the end of your list might contain the spark of innovation you are looking for.

You can brainstorm alone, or in a group. When doing it in a group, it's essential not to critique, nor criticize each other’s ideas, simply write them down. Of course, you should never criticize yourself either. Brainstorming should be a safe space where people can bring whatever crazy ideas they have to the table. Ideally, you encourage the sillier ideas as they are what’s needed to truly open up your creative pathways.

After you’ve emptied yourself of ideas, then you look at them and compare them with reality to see what's completely irrelevant and what might just work, maybe with some modifications. And then you can narrow your options down to something actionable.

An example of a brainstorm:

You want to throw a birthday party, and you’re out of ideas. You can sit down with a pen and paper or a computer  and note down ideas. Don’t criticize or analyze yet this stage, just write them down. For example, you may write:

  1. Go out to a restaurant
  2. Go to the beach
  3. Hire a caterer
  4. Go to a club
  5. Rent a room
  6. Go hiking
  7. Meet your favorite celebrity
  8. Get a yacht for a day
  9. Surprise party
  10. Pub crawl

After, you can analyze. A restaurant might be too cliche or boring, your favorite celebrity is probably not accessible … but writing these down helps you get juices flowing.