Today, Sergey, Ben and Marta will be talking about Brainstorming and how it will help your projects.
In a brainstorming session, people get together in the same room and share ideas without jugdging each others’ opinions. The result should a bunch of good creative ideas. Although it sounds fun, and you get a lot of ideas in a positive spirit, in the end there may be no real results. It is very useful to add a certain amount of criticism to actually come up with something useful. You’ll find that many people are sometimes shy, and you need an environment where everyone can participate and feel confident. It helps to take a break and give time to write down their ideas and get ready.
When you start a brainstorming session, you can use a whiteboard to list all the big things that you are thinking about, and then highlight the ideas that you want to pursue. In brainstorming sessions, if you are stuck, you can keep asking “what if…”, and putting ideas together by starting with “yes and…”
You can use a reverse brainstorming technique: You identify the problem, and reverse it. That way, you get to the cause to the problem. We tend to focus on solving the problem, whereas if you try to focus on the cause, you can find a new angle.
In the step ladder technique, you start with a problem known to everyone. Before the session, they shoud come up with a list of solutions. You all get together as a group, and only two people get into a conference room and start discussing their ideas. After a few minutes, a third person comes in, and starts talking about what he or she is thinking. Somehow, the first two people are more informed, so the person who is been there the longest has a solid opinion. Six people should be a good number in a brainstorming group.
There are some cultural differences in brainstorming. Giving out ideas without thinking them through, or giving up on “your idea”, even if it’s not the best, may not be acceptable in some countries.
Brainstorming is part the product development process. It would be good to do it at the very early stages, for example before market research or before wireframing. You have to be careful so that brainstorming does not slow down your project.
We will soon be discussing brainstorming tools. In the meantime, check out our Google+ page. We are sharing interesting links with the community!
- http://manprogress.com/en/methods/generation-ideas.html – a wierd article that tries to explain how useful ideas get generated and how our brain works. Some of the points are very interesting, others are kind of crazy.
- http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/01/30/120130fa_fact_lehrer – talk about a book by Alex Osborn – the father of brainstorming. Explains Alex’s thoughts on btainstorming.
- Myth: The more ideas, the better.
- Myth: A group of people working together can come up with better ideas than one person.
- Myth: The best ideas naturally float to the top when discussion and evaluation is open, free-ranging, and unrestricted.
- A group of say up to six individuals works best.
- Allow your team to prepare with notes, research, and maybe a few ideas here and there to get the ball rolling prior to the session
Step ladder method: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTED_89.htm
Reverse brainstorming: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newCT_96.htm