What is Brainstorm method?
Brainstorming is a method of creative thinking, stimulating creativity, thanks to which in a short time you can gather a huge number of ideas and proposals for solving a given problem.
Very often, this technique is used in schools, already in the youngest age groups, as a way to: integrate the group, warm up at the beginning of classes, establish and consolidate knowledge from a given topic, and finally find the best solution to the problem.
Currently, as Brainstorming, most of us understand the idea of generating ideas by a team of people. Originally, however, it was a specific method proposed by A. Osborn in the 1950s, whose main principles were:
– offer as many ideas as possible
– do not pay attention to whether the idea is realistic – report everything that comes to your mind
– develop suggestions that other people have made
– do not criticize (at least at the beginning)
How to prepare and conduct a Brainstorm?
Step # 1 Preparation
First of all, you need a Moderator and a group of 6-10 people to work with.
Who is Moderator?
It is the leading person, someone who gives the rhythm, watches time and directs the participants on the right topic during the meeting. The moderator also explains the rules of conducting the method, explains how each stage will look like. At the end, he prepares a summary. It is also important that he does not take an active part in formulating ideas, but stimulates other participants to active work.
Why 6-10 people?
Many studies indicate that groups of 6-10 people are the most effective. The moderator is also able to control what is happening in the training room, and if necessary, the group can be divided into smaller working groups.
Another important aspect is the presentation of the rules for brainstorming.
Brainstorming rules can look like this:
- Do not criticize the proposals.
- Avoid grading and discussing when doing the method.
- Try to think creatively, do not limit yourself.
- Do not comment on other ideas using negatives (ie “Yes, but …”)
- All participants have to take the floor, give their ideas.
- Get inspired by the ideas of others.
- At this stage, the number of proposals is important, not the quality. So report everything, but it’s really all that comes to mind.
- Do not look for solutions – now ideas matter.
- Questions can only be asked by the Moderator.
- Creative session lasts a maximum of 1 hour.
Step # 2 Carrying out a brainstorm
Brainstorming consists of two stages: a creative session and a selection and evaluation session.
Creative session: all members of the working group and moderator take part in it.
The Moderator’s role at this stage is:
– organize a meeting and present the idea and principles of brainstorming,
– familiarize all participants with the objectives of the meeting and the problem to be analyzed,
– register ideas provided by group members (eg by writing on the board or sticking notes with ideas on the flip-board),
– stimulate the group to actively participate in the meeting,
– keep impartiality, do not comment and do not criticize the submitted proposals,
– ensure that each participant follows the rules of the meeting.
Selection and evaluation session: Moderator and a group of 3-5 specialists from different areas and familiar with the process of the analyzed issue take part in it.
The Moderator’s role at this stage is:
– organization of the meeting and invitation of specialists in specific areas
– assigning tasks within selected ideas and setting deadlines
– Brainstorming summary
During the selection and evaluation session, all previously collected proposals are grouped and evaluated by specialists. There are many ways to evaluate ideas, such as voting. In this case, the priorities would be determined depending on the number of votes cast on the given proposal.
Why are the experts and not the members of the working group assessing?
Of course, it may happen that the working team in the first stage of the brainstorming session is attended by people who know the topic discussed in detail, but it is better to avoid it. They could disrupt the process of generating ideas, suggesting specific solutions or negating the legitimacy of a given proposal.
What else in the selection and evaluation session. Now, expert knowledge can prove invaluable in order to correctly select proposals that will affect the solution to the problem. Experts can also indicate whether the financial capabilities of the department / company are adequate to implement the proposed solutions. After selecting the best ideas, it is necessary to indicate who is responsible for the implementation and until when the tasks have to be implemented. This is necessary if we want the problem to be solved effectively.