What is Brainstorming? Brainstorming is part of design thinking, combines a relaxed, informal approach to problem solving with lateral thinking. It is a method used to generate creative, critical ideas to solve clearly defined design problems. In controlled conditions and a free-thinking environment, people suggest as many spontaneous new ideas as possible. All the ideas are noted down without criticism and after the brainstorming session the ideas are evaluated to find potential solutions. Procedures of Brainstorming You often get the best results by combining individual and group brainstorming. To run a group brainstorming session effectively, follow these steps. 1) Prepare the Group First, set up a comfortable meeting environment for the session. Remember that prep is important, but too much can limit – or even destroy – the freewheeling nature of a brainstorming session. Consider who will attend the meeting. A room full of like-minded people won't generate as many creative ideas as a diverse group, so try to include people from a wide range of disciplines, and include people who have a variety of different thinking styles. Afterwards, appoint one person to record the ideas that come from the session. Post notes where everyone can see them, such as on flip charts or whiteboards; or use a computer with a data projector. Modern brainstorming techniques include “brainstorming softwares (computer-aided creativity)” too. 2) Present the Problem Clearly define the problem that you want to solve, and lay out any criteria that you must meet. Give people plenty of quiet time at the start of the session to write down as many of their own ideas as they can. Then, ask them to share their ideas, while giving everyone a fair opportunity to contribute. 3) Guide the Discussion Once everyone has shared their ideas, start a group discussion to develop other people's ideas, and use them to create new ideas. Building on others' ideas is one of the most valuable aspects of group brainstorming. Stick to one conversation at a time, and refocus the group if people become sidetracked. Welcome creativity, explore individual ideas in detail, and encourage as many ideas as possible, regardless of whether they're practical or impractical. Use thought experiments such as Provocation or Random Input to generate some unexpected ideas. 4) Take Action At some point, the brainstorming session must end. You need to decide which of the ideas have merit and move forward with the solution. Maybe you've found a way to solve a marketing problem, for example, or perhaps you've come up with your next online product. Regardless of the subject of the brainstorming session, it needs to end in action. Rules 1. Set a time limit – Depending on the problem’s complexity, 15–60 minutes is normal. 2. Begin with a target problem/brief – Members should approach this sharply defined question, plan or goal and stay on topic. 3. Refrain from judgment/criticism – No-one should be negative (including via body language) about any idea. 4. Encourage weird and wacky ideas – Further to the ban on killer phrases like “too expensive”, keep the floodgates open so everyone feels free to blurt out ideas (provided they’re on topic). 5. Aim for quantity – Remember, “quantity breeds quality”. The sifting-and-sorting process comes later. 6. Stay visual – Diagrams and Post-Its help bring ideas to life and help others see things in different ways. 7. Allow one conversation at a time – To arrive at concrete results, it’s essential to keep on track this way and show respect for everyone’s ideas. 8. Complete log of all ideas – What is important here is to determine who is going to be the host of the brainstorm, i.e. the recorder of ideas. This person should hold back from any contributions during the sessions. If ideas are disregarded and not written down, participants might often feel demotivated. 9. Think outside the box and inspire each other – Brainstorming usually entails its own form of group dynamics, which leads to ideas being pushed to one specific conceptual sphere or condensed to a single strand of ideas during one brainstorm session. Participants should neither shy away from developing ideas, nor from mentioning ideas which lead to a completely new conceptual direction. Advantages of Brainstorming Some of the advantages of brainstorming for businesses and individual productivity include: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Brainstorming allows people to think more freely, without fear of judgment. Brainstorming encourages open and ongoing collaboration to solve problems and generate innovative ideas. Brainstorming helps teams generate a large number of ideas quickly, which can be refined and merged to create the ideal solution. Brainstorming allows teams to reach conclusions by consensus, leading to a better-rounded and better informed path forward. Brainstorming helps team members feel more comfortable bouncing ideas off one another, even outside of a structured session. Brainstorming introduces different perspectives, and opens the door to out-of-the-box innovations. Brainstorming helps team members get ideas out of their heads and into the world, where they can be expanded upon, refined, and put into action. 8. Brainstorming is great for team building. No one person has ownership over the results, enabling an absolute team effort. Disadvantages of Brainstorming Some of the disadvantages of brainstorming include: 1. It’s a time Consuming Process. If you don't put a time limit on your brainstorming session, it could go on for hours or days, interfering with the team's regular duties and increasing the workload of others. 2. It promotes fights and arguments, often leads to criticism since people usually judge others’ ideas and statements. 3. It’s not always effective. For example, if participants have poor communication skills, they’ll find it hard to express their ideas or listen to what other people have to say. 4. It’s not always the right choice for everybody. Some people panic at the thought of speaking in front of a group, but they can come up with excelle1nt ideas when in one-on-one meetings. Others, meanwhile, are simply lazy, and they coast through brainstorming sessions by allowing noisier and more proactive colleagues to do the work. . 5. Going through the protocol, processing and ordering the ideas can become a complex procedure. This also depends on the number and order of the generated ideas. 6. Advising participants to let others speak without making them feel offended or intimidated can be difficult. 7. Participants with the ability to express their ideas faster and more effective gain the general attention of the group. Some form of leadership can be formed in this way within the group, which might make participants feel intimidated. 8. On the one hand, people are not very skilled at controlling their non-verbal reactions and might influence the creativity of others with their posture, gestures or facial expressions. On the other hand, attempting to control their non-verbal behavior might inhibit their own creativity. Examples of Brainstorming Scenario #1 You with your team mates need to prepare a proposal for the Final Year Project. Calling a brainstorming session to generate new innovative Engineering ideas would be a perfect way to start this writing process. As a team, you can throw as many ideas and research together as much you can, and then refine them together to get a clear picture of the direction going forward. Scenario #2 You have to arrange a Welcome party for the university students. The execution of party needs to have many aspects like approachable venue, comfortable seats, music, theme, food, or even the seating arrangement of seniors/juniors etc. Depending on the theme type and its circumstances, applying creative elements is sometimes what is needed to succeed. Scenario #3 You have decided to upscale your business and increase the production with some new competent design incorporated in product line. Here you need a brainstorming session with your team to come up with a list of growth strategies for the coming year, which focuses on expanding your products into your most successful markets with increased efficiency, improved designs and reduced cum cost effective products.