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Brainstorming ProcessThe Brainstorming (brainstorm) method is a semi-structured creative group activity, used most often in ad-hoc business meetings to come up with new ideas for innovation or improvement. Members of the group are encouraged to put forward ideas about a problem and how it may be solved, in order to generate as many ideas as possible, even if they are not always usable alternatives. The idea behind brainstorming is, that a group of people can achieve a higher (synergy) level of creativity than the sum of the participants separately.

Brainstorming Rules

Three major rules for a successful brainstorm session are:

  1. Participants should be encouraged to come up with as much ideas as possible, however strange they are (there are no bad ideas).
  2. No judgment should be given about any idea, until the end of the session. Whether negative or positive.
  3. Participants should be encouraged to build on each others ideas, creating unlikely combinations and taking each one in unexpected directions.

Brainstorming hints

Some hints for a successful brainstorm session are:

  • Use an experienced facilitator. External?
  • Appoint one person to write down all ideas that come out of the brainstorm session.
  • Use a flip chart for making the notes. This enables later study and evaluation at the end of the session.
  • Identify a precise topic to be discussed (keep the session focused on the problem).
  • No more than 8-10 people in one session. If there are more participants, then split up the brainstorm session and report to each other afterwards.
  • One person writes everything down.
  • Evaluate the ideas in 2 steps: A: define the criteria. B: score the results on the criteria.
  • At the end of the brainstorming session you should discuss the steps needed to implement the ideas. If this is complicated, do another brainstorming session on how to implement the ideas.
  • Clearly define the problem you want solved, and lay out any criteria to be met.
  • Ensure that no one criticizes or evaluates ideas during the session. Criticism introduces an element of risk for group members when putting forward an idea. This stifles creativity and cripples the free running nature of a good brainstorming session.
  • Encourage an enthusiastic, uncritical attitude among members of the group.
  • Try to get everyone to contribute and develop ideas, including the quietest members of the group.
  • Let people have fun with the brainstorming meeting.
  • Encourage people to come up with as many ideas as possible. Both the solidly practical ones and the wildly impractical ones are welcome.
  • Welcome creativity.
  • Ensure that no train of thought is followed for too long.
  • Encourage people to develop other people's ideas, or to use other ideas to create new ones.

The effectiveness of brainstorming

Although brainstorms are used frequently worldwide for over 70 years, the effectiveness of them for generating new ideas is debatable. Brainstorms are most effective to generate a lot of ideas in a short timeframe. Group processes are also effective for evaluating existing ideas. However (bright) individuals are said to be better at creating original and higher-quality ideas.

Book: Michael Michalko - Thinkertoys (A Handbook of Business Creativity) -

Book: Jason Rich - Brain Storm: Tap into Your Creativity to Generate Awesome Ideas and Remarkable Results -

Brainstorming Special Interest Group

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Forum about Brainstorming  

The most recent topics about: Brainstorming.

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Best Practices about Brainstorming

Here you will find the most valuable ideas and practical suggestions.

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Brainstorming Difficulties
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Expert Tips about Brainstorming

Here you will find professional advices by experts.

What to do if your Brainstorm Process Got Stuck?

Brainstorming session did not provided enough good ideas… (...)

Variations of Brainstorming

Creative thinking, Decision-making, Brainwriting, Nominal Group Technique, Group Passing Technique, Team Idea Mapping (...)

Evaluating Ideas

Checklist to Evaluate Ideas (...)

Group Composition for Successful Brainstorming


The Advantages of Group Decision-Making

Group Decision-Making (...)

The Disadvantages of Group Decision-Making

Group Decision-Making (...)

The Paradox of Brainstorming

Rules and No Rules (...)

Determining the Relevance of Ideas

Brainstorming (...)

Problems with Group Brainstorming. Resolutions

Group Creative Thinking, Group Brainstorming, Group Decision-making (...)

Advantages of Brainstorming

Creative thinking, Decision-m. (...)

Increasing the Quality of the Ideas in Brainstorming

Better Brainstorming (...)

Meeting Types: Proposing Something New or Building on Another Idea?

Brainstorm Meeting Types (...)

Brainstorming Sensitive Issues / Brainstorming Avoiding Groupthink

Brainstorming Variants, Brainstorming (...)

Affinity Diagram Technique

Structuring Brainstorming (...)

Disadvantages of Brainstorming

Creative thinking, Decision-m. (...)

The Role of Diversity in Personal Traits on Innovation and Innovativeness

Innovation, Increasing Organizational Innovativeness (...)
Information Sources about Brainstorming

Here you will find powerpoints, videos, news, etc. to use in your own lectures and workshops.

Brainstorming: a Creative Problem Solving Instrument

Teaching Brainstorming, Conducting a Brainstorm Session (...)

Creative Thinking Techniques and Creative Problem Solving Methodologies

Creativity, Innovation Management (...)

Generating Ideas: Concept Generation Methods

Idea Generation, Brainstorming, 6-3-5 Method, Brain-writing, Theory of Incentive Problem Solving, TIPS, TRIZ (...)

Individual Decision Making and Group Decision Making

Decision Making Process, Groupthink, Decision Making Styles, Vroom-Yetton Method (...)

Increasing Group Participation: The 3 I's of Participation

Increase Participation in Groups (Workshops, Trainings, Project Teams) (...)

Brainstorming Diagram

Brainstorming (...)

Compare:  Groupthink  |  Spiral of Silence  |  Cause and Effect Diagram  |  Mind Mapping  |  Six Thinking Hats  |  Belbin Team Roles  |  Metaplan  |  Stage-Gate  |  Scenario Planning  |  Game Theory  |  Root Cause Analysis  |  Dialectical Inquiry  |  Analogical Strategic Reasoning  |  Theory of Constraints  |  Force Field Analysis  |  Catalytic Mechanisms  |  Johari Window  |  Delphi Method  |  Pyramid Principle  |  Value Engineering

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