Fast Company has published an article this week titled, "How to Brainstorm Like a Googler." The author is Veronique Lafargue, global head of content strategy at Google Apps for Work. In many ways, the title ought to be, "How Google Employs IDEO's Design Thinking Process." The article highlights the three broad phases of design thinking: understanding and empathizing with the users, brainstorming, and prototyping. The video below shows you a bit more about how this process works at Google.
The article has a couple of helpful tips and reminders for those engaged in brainstorming in their own organizations. First, Google practices 10X thinking when they brainstorm.
"The notion of "10x thinking" is pretty familiar in the business world by now, and it's at the heart of how we innovate at Google. It's about trying to improve something by 10 times rather than by 10%. One example is Project Loon, our initiative for providing internet access to everyone: An incremental solution would be to just install more fibers, whereas a "10x" idea is Project Loon—a network of balloons traveling on the edge of space, designed to connect people in rural and remote areas and help fill the hardest-to-reach gaps in coverage."
Second, Google encourages people to try to state their ideas as concisely and crisply as possible. Google talks about writing headlines.
"Being able to describe an idea in less than six words helps you clarify it. Imagine your favorite media outlet or magazine covers your great idea: What would you want the headline to read?"
Third, don't wait to prototype. Move quickly from brainstorming to prototyping.
Most brainstorming sessions end with an agreement to have another meeting later, to take those ideas and work them up further. It's a common mistake. You want to strike when the iron is hot—you don't want to walk away or agree to follow talk with more talk. Here at Google, we like to build a quick prototype pretty much right away.