Most of us have been involved in brainstorming activities but did you know that there are four ‘rules’ for doing it properly?
No Criticism – Judgment of ideas should be withheld until after the session.
Be left-field – Wild ideas are easier to ‘tame down’.
The more the merrier – The more ideas you generate the more likely you are to find a useful one.
Mix and match – look at everyones contributions and see if two ideas can be combined or if ideas can be improved.
Alex Osborn is credited with being the originator of the brainstorming technique. He suggested that creative ideas are trapped in our minds because of the fear of rejection.
To do brainstorming properly it is important not to judge, evaluate, discuss or rule out any ideas until after the session has finished. All ideas are legitimate and far-fetched ideas are often the most useful.
Social constraints may deter people from participating fully in brainstorming activities, electronic brainstorming – where the inputs are anonymous has been shown to improve the benefits of this method. Directed brainstorming which iteratively improves on each suggestion has also proved to be effective.
Once a list of ideas has been generated the next stage is to combine and improve upon ideas until a solution is found. This stage of Brainstorming can be effectively combined with other evaluation methods.
You can find more information about Brainstorming here
and a comprehensive list of variations on the brainstorming method here.