Break it Down
One of the tools I liked to use during our project is breaking down the goal in its components and brainstorming about each of them individually. One topic where this method was extremely useful was generating the sub questions of our research. For that we took our main research question and examined each part of it. The result of this was noting down the components that affect the topic of the main research question (e.g. assure maximum capacity divides into the components logistics, quality and current markets, these functioned as a basis for sub questions). This method is really useful for divergent thinking, as it takes the components into consideration separately and not as one whole. It helped us developing our sub research questions. Doing this was extremely effective, as the sub-questions then guided us through our whole report and project. Personally, every time I get overwhelmed by a topic or task, I try to break it down in to a list, to make sure to have structure and the goal being feasible. An example of this can be found when I got overwhelmed by creating a marketing strategy for my business. I just started to write down all the components of the strategy and worked through each of them individually. The feeling of ticking of part of the task gives me confidence and helps to keep the overall goal in mind.
Five brains can contribute more than one. That’s why we often decided to brainstorm separately. We choose the topic that we are looking for to find an answer for, for example coming up with the main research question. Each of us then took a day or two and wrote down the thoughts which came across. We then meet up again and discussed the top ideas of each person first. In the case of the main research question this already gave us a frame of context. Afterwards we went through the thoughts we considered as unimportant and even there we found aspects which we then included in the main research question like for example making it smarter through specific time frames. This diverse brainstorm led us to our main research question. I personally think brainstorming is always very effective. I do sit down in different sessions as well, and especially at different times, to make sure to avoid “tunnel-thinking”. Especially just before going to sleep I get a lot of ideas I do not have during the day, which is why always type them down immediately, as otherwise I will forget.
Mapping it out
I think our most continuous mean of developing divergent ideas is mapping out our ideas. This is something I mostly did for myself to generate divergent ideas. I use an online tool to create mind maps, so I can sort them and design them. This first of all gives a good overview of which aspects are interconnected, but at the same times makes clear which ideas are divergent or just building up on another. I then mark them with different colour to see how divergent I have been working. Sometimes I take a day or two to take a break and start with a fresh mind map. I then compare the old mind map with the new one and most of the times there was at least one idea that was not on my first mind map. This way I for example generated divergent entry strategies for the German market.
While in school we work a lot with visualising I personally rather use tables, especially for processes. In my opinion it takes less time but gives a better overview.