Brainstorming is a vital practice for collaboration and for solving technical issues encountered during a project. It helps to break out of the monotonous pattern of thinking and develop new ways to view or solve a problem.
Engineering teams are usually composed of diverse individuals with expertise in different disciplines making brainstorming a powerful tool. By doing so allows the team to tap into all the knowledge in the group and develop the most effective solution.
Define the problem
Define and solve one problem at a time. When solving complex technical issues, address them in parts. Present the issue clearly so the team can concur on understanding the problem.
Research the problem’s technicalities and background and consider existing solutions to the problem or to a similar problem. This will help each member a starting point from which to generate ideas of their own.
Brainstorming is a creative activity, but it is crucial not to let members stray away from the team’s primary goals. Every idea should focus on the problem at hand to allow the team to organise all the ideas efficiently and come up with one solution.
Agree on a time limit to brainstorm a particular problem and try to set ground rules not to limit the members’ ideas but to keep the brainstorming session orderly to ensure efficiency.
Get engineers to think individually
Brainstorming sessions are done to generate solutions in a short period collectively, however, allow engineers sufficient time to think of solutions by themselves.
Have each member understand the problem well and give time to generate individual ideas alone to lessen the pressure. Engineers are innately creative thinkers, but sometimes, they prefer to work and think by themselves so giving them a little time to generate ideas could help them participate more efficiently in the brainstorming process.
As soon as the members of the team are ready to brainstorm, start the process of idea generation.
Try to generate as many possible solutions as the team can muster before choosing one which shows the best promise.
Capture as many ideas within a time limit set by the team. Collect every point of view and accept every piece of contribution from each team member. Have someone write everything down to make sure that all ideas are captured and collated.
Respect individual ideas and encourage each member not to criticise their own ideas but rather present them to the team.
Engineers will always come up with different ideas and approaches, and it is essential for each suggestion to be respected to increase morale.
Combine and build on ideas
After collecting all the ideas, rank and prioritise them accordingly. Build upon each other’s concepts and suggestions to come up with a more effective and collective solution that everyone can agree on. Give time for a comprehensive assessment.
Narrow down the list by categorising and condensing ideas and merge the best suggestions to come up with the best solution.
Create a collaborative, fun, environment
Engineering is tedious so keeping the enthusiasm and cooperation within the team is essential to help motivate every member. Maintaining such an environment fosters trust among members, helping them be more comfortable about speaking up.
It helps to cultivate a culture of open communication where engineers know they can approach one another easily.
Such activities reduce the social inhibitions and allow ideas to be bounced around and built upon more effectively. Regular and effective brainstorming results in an increase in creativity and productivity of the whole engineering team.
Brainstorming helps build team spirit allowing each member to be comfortable to share ideas with his/her coworkers and stimulates the generation of new ideas.
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