What is brainstorming?
Different meanings are given to brainstorming. Fundamentally brainstorming is a technique for design thinking. By collecting and sharing ideas, a group tries to reach a conclusion for a specific problem or topic. The way in which a brainstorming session is designed depends on the goal. However, all forms allow people to think more freely and to present more spontaneous ideas. The term brainstorming was popularized by Alex Faickney Osborn in 1967.
Brainstorming is especially effective when used as part of problem solving, for example, to fix design errors in a prototype. By asking questions that start with “how could we …”, the group produces a wide variety of ideas and makes connections to come up with possible solutions. All ideas are written down without criticism and evaluated after the first round.
To break cognitive bias, brainstorming should be about asking questions rather than finding answers. However, it is not obvious for people to remain in a question mode, as from an early age people are conditioned to come up with answers.
Brainstorming is very popular in the business world and is used in various work forms. Brainwriting is a non-verbal way of brainstorming in which ideas are written on a piece of paper and supplemented by everyone. Another method of brainstorming, Brain Dumping, can be applied in both individual and group context. The SCAMPER model creates a structured approach to creative thinking. It is designed to make the user think and ask questions based on every letter in the SCAMPER acronym.
One danger in brainstorming is that confident individuals set the tone for the session, with dominant ideas that make the voice of others less heard. This challenge is removed by applying the Round-Robin Brainstorming method. The principles behind Rolestorming and Starbursting also counteract this phenomenon. All of the above brainstorming techniques can be performed in different work forms. Popular brainstorming methods include: online, offline, in groups, individual, verbal, non-verbal and more.
Brainstorming tips and tricks
What are the best known brainstorming techniques? How can I use these tools to stimulate creativity or solve problems? Is brainstorming right for me? What does a brainstorming session look like? Could it be a good idea to introduce brainstorming sessions at my workplace? The articles linked to brainstorming are about different brainstorming styles, brainstorming methods and creativity.
The Stepladder Technique is a decision-making method to simplify effective decision-making in a group. The goal is to make sure that the thoughts and ideas of all members are made available to the group, so these can be considered while the group makes a decision. The method was developed by Steven Rogelberg, Janet Barnes-Farrell and Charles Lowe in 1992.
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