Brainstorming to Create New Ideas


Brainstorming is one of the oldest of modern creative thinking techniques.

Originally developed in 1941 by Alex F Osborn, it was first called "thinking up".

He later coined the term "Brainstorming".

Brainstorming is primarily a technique of using ideas from a group of people to provide ongoing stimulation to that group in order to create more ideas.

These ideas are then combined or developed into a practical answer to a challenge that was presented to the group at the beginning of the brainstorming session.

No Criticism Allowed

One of the key concepts of brainstorming is that no criticism is allowed during the session.

In fact, wild and unusual ideas are encouraged, in part because some of these odd-sounding ideas become useful ideas and partially because these kinds of ideas can inspire other members of the group to come up with good ideas.

Sometimes all a strange idea needs is some polishing.

Part of the brainstorming concept is to build on other people's ideas.

Diversity is Helpful

Often these brainstorming groups are an assembly of people with different backgrounds.

These different backgrounds can enable the introduction of perspectives that might not usually be brought to bear in solving a particular problem.

This can stimulate new ideas and can also allow the group to move beyond familiar roadblocks.

The Number of Ideas is Less Important

Some studies have suggested that brainstorming is little better than any normal meeting.

These studies point to productivity as a measure of effectiveness.

Some of these studies have even suggested that an individual working alone can be more productive than a brainstorming group.

It is true that an individual brainstorming alone can produce more ideas than a group, but the ideas are less well developed than they would be in a group environment.

The Sum is Greater Than the Parts

This is probably because the experience and knowledge of a diverse assembly would be used to build on ideas in the group setting.

An individual alone would not have access to this expertise.

Advocates of brainstorming would argue that part of the problem with these studies that downplay the effectiveness of brainstorming, is that these groups being studied are not applying brainstorming principles properly.

Precision and Accuracy

One key concept is that the initial challenge presented to the group must be very precisely and accurately worded.

A poorly worded challenge can lead the group in all kinds of unproductive directions.

Hierarchy Limits

Another important key concept is that authority figures that are directly above the participants in the work environment cannot be present at the brainstorming sessions.

The presence of bosses tends to inhibit any of the unusual ideas that can really get a brainstorming session going.

This absence of other egos to contend with probably explains why individuals can produce more ideas when brainstorming alone.

Use a Facilitator

An important component of brainstorming is the use of a facilitator.

The facilitator presents the initial challenge to the group.

The facilitator may also be the one who records all the ideas.

One of the important concepts of brainstorming is to aim at the quantity of ideas.

The quality of ideas can be sorted out later.

The facilitator will also try to get the group going again as it slows down.

This is usually accomplished with a series of previously prepared questions.

The facilitator might present ideas for further development at these points where the group slows its pace.

Creative Thinking

Brainstorming is a useful creative thinking technique.

Many innovations and new ideas have been developed as a result of brainstorming.

If an individual or a group is looking for a way to develop new ideas, brainstorming is certainly worth a try.

Just remember to apply the technique properly in order to get the best results.

Michael Russell - Your Independent guide to Brainstorming

Brainstorming to Create New Ideas

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