One of my favourite brainstorming techniques is where participants spend time looking at their problems from the perspective of other people, and use that output as stimulus for ideas to solve their own problem.
It is an effective problem solving technique because it takes you out of your existing patterns of thinking, which always lead to the same answers, and moves you down new thought pathways bringing fresh ideas into the open. It can also remove the subjectivity and frustration we feel when faced with a tricky, seemingly unsolvable problem, where often the phrase “hitting my head against a brick wall” may well apply. As a technique, it allows you to leave all your preconceptions about how the solution has to look at the door, so to speak, and frees you up to explore alternatives that you may usually dismiss because they don’t fit the solution you think you are looking for.
It is a simple and effective way to relook at stubborn problems and get a new perspective on them and you don’t need a room full of creative types and a specially designated workshop day to do it. Although idea generation always works best with two brains over one, it is good habit to get into, when looking at your problems, even on your own. When you are stuck for an answer, spend some time asking “how would… solve this problem?” and see what comes up.
Make sure you choose a different perspective through which to view your problem, rather than one that is to close to your own. Make yourself a set of “perspective” cards and pull one randomly out to use – from Richard Branson to Madonna, from an alien to an 80 year old woman – the list of perspectives you can try on is endless. Once you’ve generated a page full of ideas on how that person would solve your problem in their world, use that as stimulus to come up with ideas on possible solutions for your business issue. You’ll be amazed at what you find.