The brainstorming technique was developed by Alex F. Osborn in 1957 and brainstorming means that a team of members generates a large amount of alternative fruitful ideas on a specific problem without any criticism and then evaluates each idea by based on its advantages and disadvantages. Brainstorming techniques fall into four broad categories: viewing, exploring, modifying, and experimenting.
Creativity is breaking out of established patterns to see things differently – Edward de Bono
Origin of brainstorming
Alex F. Osborn, an advertising executive, began developing methods of creative problem solving in 1939. He began facilitating brainstorming sessions and discovered a significant improvement in the quality and quantity of ideas generated by employees. He first called these sessions “organized ideation.” which was later dubbed by attendees as “brainstorming sessions”. Osborn recommended that everyone in the group be given a clear statement of the problem to be solved, and that the problem be simple and focused.
Meaning of brainstorming
Brainstorming means that a team of members generates a large amount of alternative fruitful ideas on a specific problem without any criticism, and then evaluates each idea based on its pros and cons.
- The purpose behind the creative technique of this group is to provide other information as input for further stimulation.
- A comprehensive checklist is then compiled to weed out ideas that are obviously unfeasible while retaining those that merit further consideration.
- A particularly useful tool for stimulating divergent thinking is brainstorming.
- Brainstorming builds fluidity and flexibility. Improves the group’s ability to easily produce many original ideas and come up with many different types of ideas
Principles of Brainstorming Sessions
For a brainstorming exercise to be successful, it is crucial to respect four key principles:
- Focus the brainstorming on a real problem your group is trying to solve.
- In other words, your brainstorming should be bound by real-world constraints.
- Limit the discussion to one conversation at a time and focus on the topic.
- Participants are encouraged to provide wild and unexpected answers because the quantity of ideas affects the quality of the final decision.
- Ideas receive no criticism or discussion.
- Try to build on other people’s ideas as much as possible.
- Ask questions that have not been asked before
- Ask questions from different angles
- The group simply offers ideas that could lead to a solution
- During the session, do not apply any analytical judgment about feasibility.
- Judgment should be suspended while ideas are generated.
Four brainstorming techniques
Brainstorming techniques fall into four broad categories: viewing, exploring, modifying, and experimenting. Each category uses a different thought process, but there are commonalities. Modification and experimentation techniques, for example, start with existing data and use intuition to derive insights from those facts. With visualization and exploration techniques, the intuitive process is followed by information gathering and data analysis.
In this approach, groups tend to imagine an ideal long-term solution and the means to achieve it. The group begins by ignoring cost, time and resource constraints and tries to generate ideas for an ideal future. It has been observed that a breakthrough idea often comes from a seemingly irrelevant place. Once several ideas are generated, the team will start discussing the action plan to implement these ideas.
In this approach, the group often uses guided images such as symbols, analogies, and metaphors to describe an ideal scenario as well as to challenge assumptions. A variation of this method is to take the assumptions on the table and literally flip them. A related approach called paradoxical thinking also helps free your mind from conventional patterns by developing an awareness of opposites.
In this approach, the emphasis is on adapting to the current status quo. Modification techniques start with the status quo (such as the current technology, business situation, product or service) and attempt to adapt to the current state. Explore additional features or functionality that customers would like to see included in the program or service.
The final approach is to experiment by methodically combining items in different ways and then testing the resulting new combinations.