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Generating new ideas in a group activity. Explanation of Brainstorming.


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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 Forum
  Brainstorming Alone
What do you think of using a mobile tool for doing a brainstorm on your own? According to some studies it has better results than doing it in a session. That's why we developed a  
  Learning Canvas 3.0 for Brainstorming
The Learning Canvas (Alexandre Magno, "How Creative Workers Learn") might be useful as a tool for brainstorming sessions.
Since brainstorms meetings do not exclude any idea or judge any suggestions that come up from the team, normally many ...
  How to Measure the Effectiveness of Brainstorming Sessions?
Time and time again research shows that in general meetings are only 40% effective, with the rest of it being non-value adding activities. How can we measure the effectiveness of a brainstorming session just run? (Understanding such issues as product...
  Use Six Thinking Hats to Structure Brainstorming Sessions
I suggest using the Six Thinking Hats method to organize thinking in a brainstorming session:
1. Start by wearing a Blue hat as a facilitator and explain the purpose of the session and the meetin...
  Brainstorming: an Outlet for Hidden Ideas and Submerged Suggestions
Brainstorming is a platform for free suggestions and a democratic way of solving completed complex problems in any industry. This creates an opportunity for hidden ideas to come to fore.
The members feel elated and recognized for being in brain...
  Suggestion Boxes | Suggestion Schemes
I view brainstorming as a collection of 'suggestions' within a small group inside the four walls.
In our factory we had a "suggestion scheme". Suggestions were invited from the workmen on product development, means to enhance productivity, bette...
  Meeting Types: Proposing Something New or Building on Another Idea?
There’s a relationship between two initiating behaviors and meeting success, namely, proposing – putting forward new ideas, and building – als...
  The Paradox of Brainstorming
Sadly, in most organisations that I have consulted to or worked in the managers leading brainstorms have not actually conducted them properly. Too often they have descended into untimed, chart lists and discussions where creativity has been the first...
  Network Brainstorming (via Internet)
Network brainstorming (on the Internet) (electronic brainstorming) is as a process much more difficult than the traditional process conducted in one room:
- Members of the group don't recognize and understand each other easily.
  Brainstorming Outcome: the Next Step
Brainstorming is a creative strategy where individuals can squeeze their brains to think out of the box and obtain something novel with the rest of the team. After the brainstorming session is done, one way to proceed is to classify the ideas ...
  Use Brainstorming as a New Leader
I used brainstorming sessions to generate ideas and also to get to know how my team thinks. When you're a new leader of an organization, get the team together and brainstorm about what needs to be improved and how to do it.
It is one way ...
  Brainstorming - Dealing with Excess of Information
My latest brainstorming meetings for SWOT analysis generated more (much more) material than I expected, directed to several companies areas.
I have now a great deal of information to treat.
Is there a special method to solve this issue?
  Outsourcing Brainstorming
Here is a new tool for your team: get ideas in time for tomorrows meeting. Use a great new crowdsource service. Accesses thousands of brilliant minds. ...
  Branstorming session - No more Purpose - Time to stop.
A brainstroming session serves no more purpose when and after the particpants have nothing to say anymore about the issues at hand. It is then time to stop....
  Combine Brainstorming with Cause and Effect Diagram (Ishikawa)
I find that combining Brainstorming with a Cause and Effect Diagram (Ishikawa) helps to generate ideas while the structure of the diagram helps to keep the ideas flowing. If the team comes to a...

Brainstorming Special Interest Group

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Brainstorming Education & Events

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Best Practices - Brainstorming Premium
  Examples of Ground Rules. Tips for Facilitators
What are Ground Rules?
When you're going to participate in some form of group activity, it's a good idea to agree beforehand upon some rules all participants must follow. Such agreements are called: Ground Rules (GR).
GR are the stan...
  Start Brainstorming Process Individually, Then Move to Group Process
When people work as a group to brainstorm it limits novelty to start as a group to early. People censor what they believe a group will accept (Groupthink).
Research has found that brainstorming ought ...
  Store your Brainstorming Ideas - They May be of Use Later
During brainstorming sessions, varied thoughts come out of the team which can be co related to "ideas" captured earlier. An idea that was conceived a year back, may serve as a baseline for today 's topic.
So keep ideas, store them, so you can re...
  Do a Brainstorm Session to Make (or Prepare for) Major Decisions
It is adviseable to conduct a branstorm session before any big project for an effective decision making. In my long years of industrial experience I have found it is useful and wise to do brainstorming before taking any major decision.
The memb...
  Conditions for Brainstorming
A good brainstorming session is possible only if all the participants are:
1. Respecting each other and
2. Follow the etiquette of discussion, i.e. listening to the others without interrupting them when they are speaking....

Expert Tips - Brainstorming Premium

What to do if your Brainstorm Process Got Stuck?

Also refered to as: 'Negative Brainstorming'. You reword the problem to how to create it, and then work towards the solution.
This variant can be...
Usage (application): Brainstorming session did not provided enough good ideas…

Variations of Brainstorming

* Brainwriting / Nominal Group Technique:
This technique can be used to ensure that each participa...
Usage (application): Creative thinking, Decision-making, Brainwriting, Nominal Group Technique, Group Passing Technique, Team Idea Mapping

The Advantages of Group Decision-Making

The benefits of group decision-making include:
- Synergy: Group decisions tend to combine and improve on the knowledge of the grou...
Usage (application): Group Decision-Making

Evaluating Ideas

Princeton Creativity Research has developed the following 12 steps checklist to accurately evaluate ideas:
1) Have you considered all advantages o...
Usage (application): Checklist to Evaluate Ideas

The Disadvantages of Group Decision-Making

The drawbacks of group decision-making include:
- Longer time frame: Groups generally need more time to make decisions than individ...
Usage (application): Group Decision-Making

Determining the Relevance of Ideas

When you need to distinguish what is relevant from what is not, it can be useful sometimes to start understanding and listing what is and what ...
Usage (application): Brainstorming

Increasing the Quality of the Ideas in Brainstorming

In order to generate better ideas from your brainstorming sessions, Kevin P. Coyne and Shawn T. Coyne ("Seven Steps to Better Brainstorming", McKinsey...
Usage (application): Better Brainstorming

Advantages of Brainstorming

* Facilitates the generation of innovative ideas and improvements, as well as the finding of unusual solutions to problems.
* Can be used, when ...
Usage (application): Creative thinking, Decision-m.

Problems with Group Brainstorming. Resolutions

Empirical research has shown that group brainstorming is only about half as effective as individual brainstorming due to problems as distraction, comm...
Usage (application): Group Creative Thinking, Group Brainstorming, Group Decision-making

Brainstorming Sensitive Issues / Brainstorming Avoiding Groupthink

Cardstorming is a creativity tool, similar to Brainstorming, allowing people to share ideas. It can be used as an alternative to brainstorming ...
Usage (application): Brainstorming Variants, Brainstorming

Affinity Diagram Technique

Affinity diagrams offer a special way of structuring brainstorming sessions. This technique allows groups of employees to organize ideas, show ...
Usage (application): Structuring Brainstorming

Disadvantages of Brainstorming

* Very dependent on the contribution of the participants.
* Most of the resolutions are very often unusable (more than 90%).
* Risk of get...
Usage (application): Creative thinking, Decision-m.

The Role of Diversity in Personal Traits on Innovation and Innovativeness

New research by Hewlett, Marshall and Sherbin proves that diversity (of personal and team traits) drives innovation and fuels market growth, although ...
Usage (application): Innovation, Increasing Organizational Innovativeness

Resources - Brainstorming Premium

Brainstorming: a Creative Problem Solving Instrument

Clear presentation about the concept of Brainstorming, by H. Balácková, including the following sections:
1. Concept of Brainstorming
2. Usa...
Usage (application): Teaching Brainstorming, Conducting a Brainstorm Session

Creative Thinking Techniques and Creative Problem Solving Methodologies

This presentation elaborates on the concept of creative thinking. It pays particular attention to the multiple methodologies for developing creative t...
Usage (application): Creativity, Innovation Management

Generating Ideas: Concept Generation Methods

This presentation about idea generation provides a clear description of an idea generating process. The presentation includes the following sections:...
Usage (application): Idea Generation, Brainstorming, 6-3-5 Method, Brain-writing, Theory of Incentive Problem Solving, TIPS, TRIZ

Individual Decision Making and Group Decision Making

Presentation about Decision Making by groups and individuals. The presentation includes the following sections:
1. Knowledge Objectives
2. D...
Usage (application): Decision Making Process, Groupthink, Decision Making Styles, Vroom-Yetton Method

Increasing Group Participation: The 3 I's of Participation

Steve Davis explains his model to increase Group Participation.

There are three types of participation:
1. Physical participation (act...
Usage (application): Increase Participation in Groups (Workshops, Trainings, Project Teams)

Brainstorming Diagram

Download and edit this 12manage PowerPoint graphic for limited personal, educational and business use. Republishing in intranets, websites, books, ma...
Usage (application): Brainstorming


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Brainstorming Method


Brainstorming Session


Brainstorming Method


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Brainstorming Session

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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