There are hundreds of options for brainstorming--and new ones arriving all the time in our fast-paced digital world. However, for some a classic approach might be better than the latest app. It's all about finding what works best for you, taking into account learning styles, preferences, and any props you might have available. The next time you're stumped about a decision or can't move forward, try out one of these traditional approaches. You might be surprised by how effective they (still) are.

1. Teleporting Storming: You're staring down a problem and can't seem to find the right approach. Imagine that you were in a different place or a different time. Would you approach it differently if you were dealing with it at your favorite vacation spot rather than your cubicle? What if this was 10 years ago and you had a penchant for taking a lot more risk? Imagine it from an alternate perspective and the path forward may become more clear.

2. Figuring Storming: Can you imagine how someone else might tackle an issue, whether it's a celebrity, your boss, or a role model? "I like to put myself in someone else's shoes and it often helps me see things from a fresh perspective," says AdLift CEO Prashant Puri. "I know quite a few people who do this and you really need to embrace role-playing to make it work. You have to really be them in order to benefit from their ideas."

3. Mind the Gap: Whether you realize it consciously or not, the actual problem you're struggling with is a gap. You know where you are (Point A) and where you want to get (Point Z), and it's that gap in between the two that needs to be filled. Write down all the steps necessary to get there so you have a tangible to-do list that's a lot easier to tackle.

4. Changing Your Attributes: You don't necessarily have to think of yourself as an entirely different person in order to see a fresh angle. What if there was just one attribute about you that was different--your race, gender, or even weight can make a difference in how you see a challenge. Every time you change an attribute, your subconscious cracks open a new door that might lead to your answer.

5. Mind Mapping: Perhaps the most classic approach of all, this is putting a goal in the center of a piece of paper or board, then branding into subtopics. Create as many subcategories as possible as well as ideas that spring from them. It's great for writers and other creative types who are looking for a commonality but have the freedom to get a little more innovative.

6. Superstorming: If you could have any superpower, how would that change your brainstorming session? Suddenly turning into Wolverine might make you look at a more blunt and aggressive approach. Having the X-ray vision of Superman could certainly help with transparency issues. Dabble in as many superpowers as possible to get the most diversity.

7. Medici Effect Storming: The Medici Effect describes how ideas might not be obviously related upon first examination. If you seek out parallels, however, you'll find many more commonalities than you thought. Maybe you have a goal of winning a specific prize--looking closer at other award winners (even if it's a different award) can help you pinpoint what they have in common and what you can embrace to up your odds.

8. Blind Writing: This can be used for just about any type of issue, not just writer's block. Forcing yourself to simply put pen to paper for a minimum of 10 minutes will open up new ideas. The only rule is you have to keep writing, even if it's to jot down, "I don't know what to write about." Eventually you'll come up with something. Whether or not it's a "winner" doesn't matter, because at least you're energizing the part of your mind that does the work of writing.

9. Group Ideation Storming: Two is better than one when it comes to brainstorming sessions. When you start discussing ideas as a group, you'll naturally feed off of each other and discover more things. This can be especially helpful for brainstormers such as artists who often do their work solo.

10. Reverse Storming: This is an approach that attorneys love. Consider what most people would assume in your situation, and then figure out ways to do the opposite. One way is to ask yourself, "How could I stop this goal from happening." It's a way to look at new methods and approaches assuming it's your only option.

No matter what technique works for you, it's always beneficial to experiment. You might find that there are several techniques that help. Otherwise, who knows what you might be missing?

Published on: Sep 24, 2014