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What’s Brainstorming and how do I use it?

You may have heard the term Brainstorming before, unsure what it is and how to do it? Let’s have a look at the basics to get you started…

 

What is Brainstorming?

 

Brainstorming is a group problem-solving technique that involves stimulating creative thinking to come up with new ideas. Brainstorming was initially started by Alex F. Osborn, who promoted  unrestrained and spontaneous thoughts from participants.

 

“Brainstorm means using the brain to storm a creative problem and to do so “in commando fashion, each stormer audaciously attacking the same objective” – Alex F. Osborn

 

Why I should use Brainstorming?

 

Brainstorming encourages creative thinking to get people out of a narrow mind-set so that they can explore other possibilities and come up with solutions that may not otherwise have been thought of.

 

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When do I use Brainstorming techniques? 

 

Brainstorming can be used to solve many kinds of problems in business. It is important to have a problem that is specific and can be made into a question.

 

“It is easier to tone down a wild idea than to think up a new one.”- Alex Osborn

 

How do I complete Brainstorming?

 

1. Gather the ‘tools’ you will need

  • A specific problem – expressed as a question
  • A team of about 5-10 people – this should be a mixed group of people, men and women, from varied backgrounds within the business, both experts and non-experts. All may have ideas that could help to solve the problem
  • A team leader – they will ensure the session is managed correctly by making sure a few basic rules are followed

 

2. The team leader will introduce the problem and explain it in a way that everyone understands – this can be done by providing details of the problem and in some cases showing the team the problem

 

3. The team will then start to ‘storm’ the problem. They will create as many ideas as possible in a set amount of time (usually 30-60 minutes). Every member of the team is encouraged to speak all ideas that come to their mind that might lead to a solution – no matter how bold they are, no criticism is allowed so that everyone feels free to do this. There are no bad ideas, the objective is to create as many ideas as possible, the more the better. All are encouraged to build on other people’s ideas to create further ideas or to combine them

 

4. All ideas should be recorded where each member of the team can see them during the brainstorming session, such as on a whiteboard

 

5. Once the brainstorming is complete the ideas should be evaluated as to their feasibility and transferred into a Fishbone Diagram or Affinity Diagram. This can be done straight away or at another meeting. From here the root cause of the problem and a corrective action plan can be determined

 

So now we’ve highlighted the basics, here’s an example for you…

 

brainstorming example

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