We can all agree that brainstorming has long since been the most popular way to form creative ideas and solutions in a group setting. However, what many people do not realise is that there are a variety of different ways to brainstorm. In this blog, PixelTree explores various unique ways to brainstorm product ideas and how to set up a session.
So, how do you brainstorm for product ideas? Whilst there is no official right way to brainstorm product ideas, here are some popular brainstorming techniques you could try with your team:
- Working-backward technique
- Role-storming technique
- ‘What if?’ technique
- Brainwriting technique
In fact, it’s better to try a variety of different brainstorming activities as it can help your team think more creatively.
Keep reading to learn more about product idea brainstorming and why it is so effective.
How To Brainstorm Product Ideas
When it comes to devising a brilliant solution to a problem, product development teams continue to grapple with the best way to conceive and brainstorm new product ideas. Harnessing this creativity can be unpredictable, which is why product leaders look for ideation tactics to corral the chaos.
Brainstorming has long been the most popular technique to generate ideas in a condensed time frame. However, remember that every product team is different and your method for ideation will reflect that. There’s no single way to conduct a product brainstorming session, trying a variety of methods can even help your team think outside the box. Here are some popular product idea brainstorming techniques:
This exercise involves envisioning how and why a future product might succeed. As a team, imagine your future product launch day and write a press release together. Documents to inspire your brainstorm include:
- Definition of the customer experience
- Product user manual
- Advertisement or commercial
- Product sales pitch
You don’t need to have the faintest idea of what your product will look like to take part in this activity, simply work from the knowledge you have of the problem you hope to solve.
Role storming is all about putting yourself in your customer’s shoes. In your team, act out a scene in which one or two people play the role of customers with a problem your team hopes to solve. All of the other participants will play problem solvers and try to resolve the challenge.
This technique offers many benefits:
- Gain a better understanding of the problem – Asking team members to articulate a challenge from the customer’s perspective can unlock new angles you hadn’t yet considered.
- Inhabit the customer experience – Instead of thinking in abstract terms about the people who will one day buy your product, you’ll gain firsthand insights into your customer’s needs and challenges.
- Solutions will arise organically – As team members play, the problem-solvers addressing customer challenges will have time to think on their feet. As with any improvised performance, expect to see wild, hilarious and brilliant solutions.
‘What If?’ Technique
This brainstorming session involves asking your team to respond to ‘what if?’ scenarios related to the problem you are trying to solve. Either come up with a list of questions in advance or ask your team to brainstorm both questions and answers.
Here are examples of some ‘what if?’ questions to get you started:
- What if this problem came up one hundred years in the past? How would you solve it?
- What if you had only five minutes to solve this problem? What would you do?
- What if Google had this problem? How would they solve it?
- What if a group of 10-year olds had to solve this problem? How do you think they’d solve it?
Alternatively, you can adapt this technique by using other types of questions, including those specific to your industry or the resources you have on hand.
In this technique, each person writes as many ideas as possible on a sheet of paper, leaving space for others to write. Then, the moderator collects and redistributes papers amongst the team members, who add their thoughts to each initial idea. Repeat this exercise until everyone has commented on everyone else’s ideas. It is then the team leader’s job to guide a discussion about the ideas that generate the most enthusiasm.
Another way to use this technique is to write the problem on a whiteboard or large notepad in an area of your office that gets regular traffic. Afterwards, invite team members to jot down ideas and respond to others suggestions.
Creative Ways To Develop Product Ideas
If you are looking for some unique ways to brainstorm product ideas, here are some suggestions that could help give you an edge:
Product Ideas Generator
Using a product ideas generator is a great way to think about things differently. These generators can surface concepts, if not fully formed innovative products by helping you reframe your mindset and get more creative.
Even if you don’t find what you were looking for, using a product ideas generator can help you source ideas to add to your mind-mapping.
When you sit behind a desk or computer screen, it is easy to get stuck in a kind of brainstorm ‘trap’. Essentially, you start thinking that the acts of product research, iteration and conception alone solve a problem. In actuality, the product you’re pondering may not solve a problem at all, but instead be a far-fetched passion project that doesn’t have a real-world application.
It’s crucial to get outside and see how customers behave. Think about what problems they encounter and how creating a product to solve those problems could be lucrative. Walk around the busy areas of your city and ask yourself these questions:
- How do people interact with each other?
- What bottlenecks or inefficiencies do you see that are fixable through the development of a creative product?
- What product would make their lives easier?
Once you develop a pair of ‘problem-solving eyes’, the ideas will start to flow from conversations and interactions with others.
Customers can be some of your best product visionaries. Whilst it’s crucial to draw ideas from your customer through interviews and focus groups, it’s equally important to allow for some spontaneity.
Remember to make your contact or feedback form highly visible on your website, so people can reach out and talk about their experiences with your product – both positive and negative. Information that comes directly from the source can be invaluable as you are brainstorming product ideas.
Eco-Friendly & Sustainable Products
As our world becomes more environmentally aware, it’s worth considering eco-friendly and sustainable products. No matter what you are producing, it is possible to make an eco-friendly or multiple-use version of the same product.
Here at PixelTree, we know how hard it can be coming up with new product ideas. However, we remain optimistic that as long as you are thinking creatively, you’ll be amazed at what bubbles to the surface.
Is Brainstorming Effective For Product Development?
Yes. Brainstorming is hugely effective when it comes to bringing new ideas to life, however it must be approached in a thoughtful way. The brainstorm session should be orientated around offering suggestions that present actual opportunities to innovate based on overall product direction.
It’s important that product managers lead the sessions and keep the conversation focused on idea generation. If the conversation derails, which is very common whilst brainstorming, the team leader should try and revert the conversation back to the agenda.
How To Prepare For Brainstorming?
Here are some of our top tips of how to prepare for a brainstorming session:
Set the stage for productive product idea brainstorming by following these steps:
- Choose your team – it’s important to choose your team members carefully so that you have a mixture of individuals from different backgrounds.
- Stage the perfect space – think about seating, sounds, lighting and writing supplies. (You can never have too many sticky notes or highlighters)
- Preparation – the product manager is responsible for setting the context and agenda for the brainstorm.
- Size – traditional brainstorm sessions cap group members at around 6-12 people.
Remember to keep these suggestions in mind whilst you are brainstorming product ideas:
- Focus on the idea, not the person
- Stay sensitive to diverse communication styles
- Keep sessions short and sweet
- Empower your team with information