Brainstorming. I’ve tried to explain this term to non-English speakers in other countries where I have worked and it’s a puzzler.
It’s a word that conjures up wild thoughts and chaotic thinking. But that’s exactly right. It’s not a Brain-breeze or a Brain-calm or a Brain-partly-cloudy or even a Brain-blustery-day. It’s a storm in the brain. Better yet, in brains, plural. For brainstorming is not a solo activity, rather a collaborative venture amongst folks preferably with different viewpoints, but all dedicated to thinking about things differently. Whether this is inventing a new widget or devising a way to manufacture said widget at a lower cost, it means tossing ideas up into the maelstrom, embracing the gale, grabbing at the lightning. Works best in less sterile environments (works best with a bottle of 12-year-old Colorado whiskey).
When the brainstorming is done, you do need to sweep up the broken glass, nail down the loose shingles, organize the outcomes and prioritize the action items. Business, especially a productization business like ours (shameless plug: Zebulon Solutions turns R&D projects into manufacturing ready products), needs rigor too. But every now and again we retrieve that bottle of whiskey from behind the coffee pot and let our brains storm away.