Brainstorming is a tool used by teams to bring out the ideas of each individual and present them in an orderly fashion to the rest of the team. The key ingredient is to provide an environment free of criticism for creative and unrestricted exploration of options or solutions
When to use?
- Encourages creativity. It expands your thinking to include all aspects of a problem or a solution. You can identify a wide range of options.
- Rapidly produces a large number of ideas. By encouraging people to offer whatever ideas come to mind, it helps groups develop many ideas quickly.
- Equalizes involvement by all team members. It provides a nonjudgmental environment that encourages everyone to offer ideas. All ideas are recorded.
- Fosters a sense of ownership. Having all members actively participate in the Brainstorming process fosters a sense of ownership in the topic discussed and in the resulting activities. When the people on a team contribute personally to the direction of a decision, they are more likely to support it.
- Provides input to other tools. You may want to affinitize the brainstormed ideas. And, if appropriate, you can work with the team to reduce the number of ideas by Multivoting.
Brainstorming is useful when you want to generate a large number of ideas about issues to tackle, possible causes of problems, approaches to use, or actions to take.
How to use?
- Review the rules for Brainstorming. Describe how this session will be conducted by going over the points below.
- Set a time limit for Brainstorming, assign a timekeeper and data recorder, and start the clock. Brainstorming should be a rapid generation of ideas, so do it quickly; 5-15 minutes works well. If the time limit has expired and ideas are still being generated, you can extend the time limit at five-minute intervals.
- State the topic to be brainstormed in the form of a question. Write it down and post it where everyone can refer to it. Ensure that everyone understands it.
- Collect everyone’s ideas. After allowing a few minutes for the participants to think about the question, ask them to give their ideas.
- Record ideas on a chart pack as they are called out, or collect ideas written by team members on post-its . Display the ideas where everyone can see them. Having the words visible to everyone at the same time avoids misinterpretation and duplication and helps stimulate creative thinking by other team members.
- Clarify each idea after all ideas have been presented, to ensure that all members have the same understanding of it. Pointing to each idea on the chart pack in turn, ask the participants whether they have any questions about its meaning. You may have to ask the contributor to explain the idea in a different way.
- Eliminate duplications. If two or more ideas appear to mean the same thing, you should try to combine them or eliminate the duplicates. Before you can wrap the like ideas into a single item or eliminate any items on the list, all of those who contributed the similar ideas must agree that they mean the same thing. Otherwise, they remain as separate items.