Brainstorming - Generating many radical ideas
How to use
Brainstorming is an excellent
way of developing many creative solutions to a problem. It
works by focusing on a problem, and then coming up with
very many radical solutions to it. Ideas should
deliberately be as broad and odd as possible, and should
be developed as fast as possible. Brainstorming is a
lateral thinking process (see the introduction to this
chapter for further information) - it is designed to help
you break out of your thinking patterns into new ways of
looking at things.
During brainstorming sessions
there should be no criticism of ideas - you are trying to
open possibilities and break down wrong assumptions about
the limits of the problem. Judgment and analysis at this
stage will stunt idea generation.
Ideas should only be
evaluated once the brainstorming session has finished -
you can then explore solutions further using conventional
If your ideas begin to dry
up, you can 'seed' the session with, for example, a random
word (see Random Input).
When you brainstorm on your own you will tend to produce a
wider range of ideas than with group brainstorming - you
do not have to worry about other people's egos or
opinions, and can therefore be more freely creative. You
may not, however, develop ideas as effectively as you do
not have the experience of a group to help you.
Group brainstorming can be very effective as it uses the
experience and creativity of all members of the group.
When individual members reach their limit on an idea,
another member's creativity and experience can take the
idea to the next stage. Group brainstorming therefore
tends to develop ideas in more depth than individual
Brainstorming in a group can
be risky for individuals. Valuable but strange suggestions
may appear stupid at first sight. You therefore need to
chair sessions tightly so that uncreative people do not
crush these ideas and leave group members feeling
To run a group brainstorming
session effectively, do the following:
problem you want solved clearly, and lay out any
criteria to be met.
session focused on the problem
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.
enthusiastic, uncritical attitude among members of the
group. Try to get everyone to contribute and develop
ideas, including the quietest members of the group
have fun brainstorming. Encourage them to come up with
as many ideas as possible, from solidly practical ones
to wildly impractical ones. Welcome creativity.
no train of thought is followed for too long
people to develop other people's ideas, or to use other
ideas to create new ones
person to note down ideas that come out of the session.
A good way of doing this is to use a flip chart. This
should be studied and evaluated after the session.
Where possible, participants
in the brainstorming process should come from as wide a
range of disciplines as possible. This brings a broad
range of experience to the session and helps to make it
is a way of generating radical ideas. During the
brainstorming process there is no criticism of ideas -
free rein is given to people's creativity. Criticism and
judgment cramp creativity.