Brainstorming – Design thinking Part 3

An integral part of the design process is brainstorming your ideas. Tom Kelley in his book The Art of Innovation, Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, shares seven secrets to brainstorming.

1. Sharpen the Focus

Good brainstormers start with a well-refined statement of the problem.This can be as simple as a question. Redefining the problem is better than having an indistinct problem. The brainstorming session will be more productive if you have a well-articulated problem description at the right level of specificity. The development of the problem statement before brainstorming will benefit the process. The focus of the problem statement should focus outward rather than inward, looking at the specific customer needs or service enhancement.

2. Playful Rules

Brainstorming is about collecting ideas rather than critique or debate of the ideas. Good brainstorming sessions include wild ideas and visual representation of ideas.

3. Number you ideas

Number the ideas in the process helps in two ways. It motivates participants before and during the sessions, as you can set targets for ideas before and during the session. Secondly, it gives a chronological sequence of the ideas when moving from idea to idea and assists in managing the process. The quality of the ideas is ultimately what matters.

4. Build and jump

“Watch for chances to build and jump.” Momentum tends to build slowly in brainstorming sessions and then starts to plateau. The person facilitating the brainstorming need to maintain the momentum, of the discussion by building on ideas, by introducing small variations to the ideas.  Keeping the energy levels high as a facilitator is critical to the process.

5 The Space Remembers

The process of brainstorming uses our spatial memory, and the recording of the ideas is a focus area for the facilitator. The whole group need to see the ideas flow. Often the best methods are written rather than technology based. Brainstorming is a group-oriented activity, the recording of the discussion and ideas is a focal point that holds the group together. There according is about capturing ideas and progress, not a record of the meeting or session.

6. Stretch your Mental Muscles

Use warm-up technique before the brainstorming sessions; these activities may include reading, videos, site visits and articles to demonstrate the existing products for an area of the problem.

7 Get Physical

Brainstorms should be extremely visual, use visual stimuli and recording methods during ideation. Bring in objects that are relevant to the brainstorm, use cure modelling to demonstrate ideas and if possible role play activities with existing products.

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