Extract solutions that could potentially address the identified problem(s)
We do this activity so that the entire team -— product managers, designers, and engineers -— is able to document their ideas and contribute to the overall solution, enhancing our shared responsibility for the success of the product. After all, no single discipline has a monopoly on good ideas!
Solution Brainstorming is often one of the first times that we begin to explore solutions and features. We run this activity after identifying and prioritizing insights & problems because we want to solve for the most important things first.
Remote Tip: For distributed teams, use Miro or a similar “digital whiteboard” and adapt the in-person steps to the digital world. For example, instead of passing out sheets of paper, have each team member work in their own section of the shared digital whiteboard.
Stick each problem or Insight to its own large sheet of paper, such as a sheet of tabloid (11"x17") / A3 paper, or section of the digital workspace.
Distribute or assign a sheet with problems or insights attached to each team member.
Have team members convert their assigned problem or insight into a “How might we…?” statement, writing the output clearly on a new, differently colored large sticky note and attaching it over the original problem or insight.
Tip: If there are more problems and insights than team members, you can divide the team into pairs and assign several to each pair. This can also be helpful if there are more people than problems and insights. For remote users, many video chat systems support “breakout rooms” or similar means to temporarily divide large groups into smaller groups for closer collaboration.
Go around the group and have each person (or pair) share out their original problem or insight and the “How might we…?” statement(s) they created from it. Make adjustments as a team until you’re happy with all statements.
Tip: Timebox the share out since this can go long. Also timebox the adjustments since this can take a while, too
Ensuring each person has a sheet or digital whiteboard section, set a timer for 3-4 minutes during which everyone quietly brainstorms ideas that could potentially solve the “How might we…?” statement. These can be as simple or fanciful as you like.
After the time is up, have everyone pass the sheet(s) to the person next to them (or create an order if remote) and repeat Step 5.
Tip: As the rounds progress, each solution brainstorm is covered with more and more ideas. Suggest to the team that they spend part of each round adding “+1” to any ideas that already exist. This helps de-duplicate from the outset and lets everyone focus on their net new ideas.
After the brainstorms make their way around the group and back to the person they started with, you’ll have generated a slew of ideas.
Success is achieved when you have extracted ideas that directly relate to your top problems and insights and captured them for further refinement.
You may need to adjust the timing depending on how many people are present. Be sure to give sufficient time for people to both read ideas and create new ideas (this is especially critical as you get further into the pass-and-brainstorm process).