Brainstorming is a technique for generating ideas and exchanging information in order to solve a specific commercial or technical challenge in which participants can think freely. Brainstorming is a group exercise in which each member discusses their ideas as they arise. At the end of the session, ideas are classified and prioritised for further action.
Brainstorming general rules
The emphasis in brainstorming is on quantity rather than the quality of ideas. You must not criticise another person’s idea. There are a few ground rules that might help a brainstorming session operate successfully.
- These include limiting the number of individuals present to no more than ten to facilitate successful group dynamics.
- During the discussion, do not criticise or mock any ideas, comments, or persons.
- Make sure you have enough of flip charts, marker pens, pencils, and paper on hand.
- Make sure to properly introduce and clarify the brief, and
- set a time limit for the session. Brainstorming sessions should last no more than 60 to 90 minutes.
Brainstorming participants often comprise an interdisciplinary team, coworkers, and external contributors.
- What about the manager? Whether or not you involve your boss depends on the goals of the session and people’s willingness to open up in front of a manager.
- How about intimidating personalities? Again, you may choose to exclude persons with imposing personalities, since this might stifle the free-flowing nature of a brainstorming session.
- What about the skeptics? Having skeptics on your team may be both beneficial and detrimental. However, you can manage with a quiet word beforehand, asking a person to temper their critical attitude for the length of a brainstorming session.
- What about the non-participants? If a person is unwilling to participate, it may be best not to have them present.
The most popular are Flip-Chart and Post-it sessions. To break the habits, let’s look at few others more original: Figure Storming, Grid Brainstorming and What is Worst Possible Idea?
All of them can be very useful in the Design Thinking process.
Have you ever thought about how someone else would handle the situation? Or what they may say on a specific subject? That’s what figure storming is all about.
- Consider how your boss, a prominent celebrity, or even the President of the United States might handle the issue.
- Putting oneself in new shoes may provide the team with a fresh viewpoint, allowing them to perceive the potential of new ideas.
- This method works best for teams who come across the same concepts for recurring tasks.
Consider this basic question: What would Mr. or Ms X do?
- When you brainstorm questions centred on the potential behaviours of a third party, you liberate ideas that aren’t restricted to your participants.
It’s one of those team-building exercises that provides everyone with a unique perspective.
A 3 by 3 grid is ideal for grid brainstorming. The number of columns determines the number of ideas required to begin the process. The number of rows determines how many times the concept is passed on and improved. Steps in a grid brainstorming session:
- Provide a grid to each group member
- Define and introduce the brief to the group
- Ask participants to sketch and complete the top row
- When finished, ask participants to place the sheets in the middle for someone else to work on the next row developing the ideas further
- Once the grid is finished, go over the ideas as a group and decide on the next steps.
Participants in a successful grid brainstorming session should be patient and enable each individual to complete the row of thoughts before passing the paper.
Variation – Brain writing
The majority of the session is quiet. It promotes a group of participants to create ideas concurrently.
- Define and present the brief to the group
- Each team member will jot down one concept
- After a few minutes, the particicpant transfer the piece of paper to the next participant. The next participant then expands on the idea or adds another fresh idea
- Do this for four or five rounds with a group of six to ten individuals, and you’ll have a plethora of ideas.
- Examine the collective thoughts created by inviting people to submit their favorite ideas
The team leader presents the issue to the team. Each team member writes down their thoughts independently. This reduces the anchoring bias and encourages everyone in the team to contribute their own ideas. It also allows everyone more time to consider their suggestions, which is very beneficial for introverted individuals.
What is Worst Possible Idea?
Worst Possible Idea is a strategy in which team members actively seek the worst possible answers during Brainstorming sessions. The “inverted” search method calms people down, improves their confidence, and sparks their creativity, allowing them to explore these ideas, question their preconceptions, and acquire insights into amazing ideas.
Why go for the Worst Possible Idea?
Some people may be hesitant to provide opinions in the presence of their peers, afraid that their views would make them appear foolish or short-sighted. You circumvent this by switching the playing field when your team employs the Worst Possible Idea method. The goal is to come up with the stupidest, wildest ideas. As a result, because no one can seem stupid, no one will be concerned about losing face. Even better, because the approach’s concept appears ludicrous, the group’s laughing relaxes us even more as we progress.
Steps in the Worst Possible Idea Method
The true power of Worst Possible Idea is what happens when we feel more comfortable expressing our ideas. Although you and your team are allowed to experiment with the most absurd-sounding ideas, there is a method to the madness. To practice Worst Possible Idea, group members should:
- Generate as many terrible ideas as possible.
- Make a list of all the characteristics of those bad ideas.
- Describe what makes the worst of these so terrible.
- Look for the polar opposite of the worst characteristic.
- Consider replacing the weakest trait with something else.
- Combine several bad ideas to see what occurs.
What can come from Worst Possible Ideas Brainstorming?
“Bad ideas started flowing. “Here’s a really bad idea,” said one banker. “We could round down everyone’s deposits to the nearest dollar. Most people probably wouldn’t notice.” Said another, “let’s make mistakes in their favor, give everyone extra money every time they make a transaction. Now that’s a bad idea!” More laughter,” but if you’ve ever seen the Bank of America “keep the change” savings program, perhaps it began in this session.”
— Bob Dorf, Co-author of The Startup Owner’s Manual (writing about Bryan Mattimore)
When team members recognise a rotten or “preposterous” concept and dissect it to discover what makes it tick, they can uncover significant insights that can serve as the foundation for solid plans elsewhere.
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