Last week, I re-joined the team at Twelve to help out with a brainstorming session. The idea was to come up with PR opportunities for a client who is opening a new performing arts centre.

What exactly is brainstorming? Well the Business Dictionary defines brainstorming as a “process for generating creative ideas and solutions through an intensive and freewheeling group discussion.” Alex Faickney Osburn, who first popularised the term in his seminal work, ‘Applied Imagination’ claimed that the process was more effective at generating ideas than an individual working alone.

So, why do we brainstorm? What are the benefits?

  • Brainstorming can help develop ideas: If one team member is stuck on an idea, another person’s insight and creative ideas can help develop the idea taking it to the next stage.

  • Breaking out of the rut: Brainstorming encourages you to think about a problem from a different angle and with several people contributing, thinking outside the box is more easily achieved.

  • A safe environment: Brainstorming creates a platform that welcomes all contributions from all members of the team; shyer team members can particularly benefit from the criticism-free zone.

  • Everyone feels involved: Another great thing about brainstorming is that it helps everyone feel that they’ve all contributed to the end solution and it reminds people what great creative ideas others have to offer, too!

  • Embrace the ridiculous: Brainstorming works on the basis that no thought is too silly, or outlandish, and that every idea is a good idea. Give free rein to your creativity and ask yourself questions like, “What if money was no object?” and “What if our timetable was three times as long?” to stimulate your inner impresario!

  • Brainstorming is fun! A brainstorming session is great for team-building and can be done in a whole host of different ways!

What we did

At Twelve, our brainstorming session was split into two distinct stages; Stage 1 involved a short warm up and looked in a bit more detail at our brief whilst stage 2 encouraged deeper thinking using lots of different stimuli to drum up new ideas. Each part essential for getting into every nook and cranny of the problem. The six sections below each provided a different way of thinking.

Stage 1

Welcome & Warm Up was a ‘show and tell’ type exercise where we each talked about an item that best expressed our inner performance artist to get us in the artistic mood.

Nice and Easy Does It: A quick fire round of the classic word association meant that each player cultivated a completely different adjective list of the performing arts industry; the task got us thinking about all the different aspects of performing arts from ballet to burlesque, from the orchestra pit to the upper circle.

In The Brief section, we listed as many ideas as we could think of which would raise publicity for our client. Then, as a group, we discussed the ideas and marked out the ones we felt would work best. This exercise was a brain dump, where any stupid and wild idea would do. This task got the ball rolling for our brainstorming session and really helped us focus on what we were discussing.

Stage 2 – Was all about the sense stimuli!

Sweet Memories involved each of us thinking about our happiest performance-related memory from the age of 12 (mine was being cast as King Rat in my primary school’s production of The Pied Piper!). We then changed this idea into something that would work for the client and then passed our ideas round so other members of the group could add to them. This task provided us all with a new stimulus, one connected with feelings, and so a new way of thinking about our brief in a different dimension.


Over My Dead Body! Was where our wild and crazy ideas came to the fore! Here, we were each given a famous person, a visual clue, and we had to come up with the most outlandish idea we could think of based on that famous person. Passing our ideas round helped to hone them into workable solutions.

Smartie Pants, like the other activities which used our senses, used smell as a way of generating new ideas; we were each given a tube of Smarties which we unfolded to write our ideas down. We were then each given a different smell which we had to use as our inspiration and we passed our germ of an idea round the group to build them into a fuller picture.

Be Different!

Be Different!

I really enjoyed the brainstorming session – we came up with so many weird and wonderful ideas and the different ways that we came up with all the ideas made it so much more fun and interesting than just sitting alone in a room drawing up a mind map! I had a great morning brainstorming with the guys at Twelve, and it’ll definitely help me to look at ways of coming up with ideas differently from now on!


Nicky & I coming up with ideas!