How To Do Brainstorming Like Google

This is the simple and deceptive three-step process that Google uses to invent its most innovative ideas.

Here at Google, we do not have a secret formula for innovation. But that does not mean that the best ideas of googlers are impossible mysteries. On the contrary, we have discovered that they can be coaxed systematically and steadily improved. And so is yours.

Better brain building
Almost everyone can learn to do better brainstorming. After all, it’s a process like any other. And the beauty of the process is that it can be taught, learned and shared. We have scattered our approach to a set of three basic principles – ideas that we believe can be adapted and implemented in almost any organization, regardless of size or industry.

The way many of us brainstorm usually gives the whole thing a bad rap experience: we usually see a brainstorming session as an unstructured scene where wild ideas are thrown around in an ad hoc way – wherever everything goes. But at Google, while we have learned that free brainstorming is the basis for innovation, it does not become an essential action without some structure.

That’s why we created a linear process for brainstorming new ideas and turning them into real products:

Get to know the user
Think 10 times
If it seems simple, it is – but you have to take every step in the right direction.

1. Get to know the user
To solve a big question, you must first focus on the user you are solving – and then everything else will follow.
To solve a big question, you must first focus on the user you are solving – and then everything else will follow. So we go out into the field and talk to people. We collect the stories, feelings and ideas of the users. We learn to feel comfortable with silence. We observe, listen and identify. You can not only understand the needs of your users – you need to address them in practice.

For example, I recently visited our clients in Canada, Brazil and India. By observing and conversing with them I realized that what we generally call “mobility” means very different things, depending on where you are. In Canada, mobility means instant collaboration from your desk, coffee shop or kitchen table. In Brazil, where users spend a lot of time traveling, a great interface and voice control underlie the concept of mobility. In India, where connectivity may be a challenge in some regions, a critical aspect of mobility works offline.

Obviously, there is no way we could have learned this without making an effort to find out. And this is something that many brainstorming sessions go wrong right away – they put everyone except the user into the room together to start throwing ideas around. But this is actually stage 2, not stage 1.

2. Think 10X
The ability to describe an idea in less than six words helps you clarify it.
Now that you’re armed with information to substantiate your brainstorm, you can get down to thinking – but not just thinking. The idea of ​​”10x thinking” is already quite familiar in the business world, and it’s the heart of the way we innovate in Google. This is an attempt to improve something 10 times and not by 10%. One example is Project Loon, our initiative to provide Internet access for everyone: a cumulative solution would be to simply install more fiber, while the 10-fold idea is Project Loon – a network of balloons traveling on the edge of space, designed to connect people in remote and remote areas and help fill the gaps .

Pictures are usually stronger than words, and harder to misinterpret.
The next step is for all participants to write down their ideas individually before they return to being a group and decide which one to continue with. Here’s the thing to understand before you do, though: 10x thinking sounds great in theory, but not everyone knows exactly how to put it into practice. So when team members reunite with their sticky notes and the most passionate part of the brainstorming process begins to gear up, make sure to follow the following six guidelines:

Build on each other’s ideas. It’s easy to kill an idea, so especially in the early stages, systematically follow up ideas with “yes”, instead of dropping them in “no, but” responses.
Produce lots of ideas. At this point quantity is more important than quality, so you will literally be released. It’s time to grab a stack of sticky notes or your favorite notes app. The best way to get a great idea is to have many ideas.
Write headlines. The ability to describe an idea in less than six words helps you clarify it. Imagine your favorite media or magazine covering your great idea: What would you like the headline to read?
to illustrate. Pictures are usually stronger than words and harder to misinterpret.
Think big. Invite bold and courageous ideas – yes, this is the “10 times” part – not cumulative solutions. As Frederick Peppert, Google’s head of innovation and creativity, likes to say: “Just beyond crazy is great!”
Reject the judgment. Do not judge ideas in the midst of brainstorming (remember Rule 1) but let them grow so you can build on and repeat them.

3. Prototype
Then it’s time to take action. Most brainstorming sessions end with an agreement to have another meeting afterwards, to take those ideas and work them on. This is a common mistake. You want to hit when a hot iron – you do not want to walk away or agree to follow the conversation with further talk.

Here at Google, we want to build a fast prototype almost immediately. It does not have to be perfect, but only a physical expression of an idea designed to strictly answer the most immediate questions and test our first assumptions about an idea that looks promising.

When it comes to details, we have discovered that we can always fake it so that it can be done as much as possible. When you can hold your ideas in your hands, you can start testing and learning from them.

At Googleplex in Mountain View, California, Google’s garage is a common area where people can go and experiment, using anything from scrap materials to 3D printers. We also host some of our creative skills for innovation labs in this space.

So we decided to offer a glimpse into virtual reality within our creative process. All you need is your phone and Google Cardboard – or any other VR device – for this fascinating experience. But if you do not have access to these devices, your desktop and mouse with YouTube 360 ​​will do just fine.