Brain Dump

Brain Dump - ToolsHero

This article describes the Brain Dump method in a practical way. After reading you will understand the definition, meaning and basics of this powerful brainstorming and creativity tool.

What is a Brain Dump?

The human brain is constantly filled with all kinds of ideas, but rarely does one take the time to really sit down and let it run free. Brain Dump is a good method to get achieve just that. Both in individual situations as well as groups, Brain Dump is a great way to get all ideas out of heads and onto paper. Brain Dump empties the head and ensures that all creativity comes out. It organises ideas, plans and solutions. This way, all thoughts end up on a sheet of paper.

Brainstorming session

One of the applications of Brain Dump is during a brainstorm session. Many participants have often already thought about the possible solutions and ideas they want to pitch during the gathering. This way, they can steer it into a certain direction and bring the others along with them. This seems great, but it stagnates the brain from digging to other ideas that may be hidden a bit farther down. This way, the participants will also be less open for the ideas of others. The focus is usually too much on their own creative proposals and with these, they hope to find supporters to embrace their ideas during the session. Brain Dump is a good solution to give everyone equal chances and to keep the participants from influencing each other.

Brain Dump Rules

Brain Dump leads to much more original results during a brainstorming session. It’s an easy method that stimulates all participants. It allows them to let go of ideas they might already have in their heads. The rules are simple and work best in three phases:

Brain Dump Phases - ToolsHero

Phase 1. start with pen and paper

Firstly, a large piece of paper and a pen are needed for every participant. This can vary from a A4 to A5 size paper. Every participant sits separately and gets the chance to think. The topic can be chosen, but it can also be very general. For example: ‘what can we do to pleasantly surprise our customers?’ Generally, 10 minutes are enough to give everyone the chance to write down all the ideas that come up. It doesn’t matter whether they are good or bad contributions; everything is allowed. It’s all about quantity here and basically everything can be written down.

Phase 2. Review together

After the first phase, it’s time to discuss all ideas with each other in the group. The chairman is well advised to let everyone speak, so that all ideas can be shared. If additions and/or alternatives are mentioned, that’s fine. Discussion and arguments should both be avoided, as this can kill the creativity. During this phase, it can be helpful to find space. As you walk through the room, everyone gets a chance to read their ideas aloud and listen to others as they move around. This stimulates them to think about the ideas of others well.

Phase 3. innovative ideas

In the second phase, everyone got the chance to share their ideas and explain them when necessary. The group will now make a selection and filter the most innovative ideas. These are studied more carefully and based on them actions can be determined. Of course a combination can be made of multiple ideas, which stimulates the creativity once more. It can also be decided to leave all the ideas that were brought forward for now and come back to them in for example a week to continue the process. After a short period of reflection, participants will have had the opportunity to think about the ideas, which often benefits their quality.

Advantages

Brain Dump is a simple, but powerful tool to get a grip on plans and creative ideas. Most people have a head full of thoughts from a busy working day, which keeps them from thinking about other things. With Brain Dump, they’re forced to do this and write down all kinds of things. In groups, each participant knows that his contribution is taken seriously. In addition, they can listen to the ideas of others freely, without the fear of their own ideas disappearing in the bin. Brain Dump allows for brainstorming with lots of productive ideas as a result. Finally, it’s advisable to apply this method regularly, so that creativity continues to be stimulated. Other good and alternative brainstorm methods are Forced Connections, Reverse Brainstorming and Starbursting brainstorming.

Now it’s Your Turn

What do you think? Is the Brain Dump method applicable in your daily work? What is your experience with with this and other Brainstorming techniques? Do you recognize the practical explanation or do you have more additions?

Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.

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More information

  1. Baillie, C. (2006). Enhancing students’ creativity through creative thinking techniques. Developing creativity in higher education, 142-155.
  2. Galagan, P. (1997). Smart companies. Training & Development, 51(12), 20-25.
  3. Lofthouse, V. A. (2007). Creative idea generation for refillable body wash products. In International Conference on Engineering Design.

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