Brainstorming Techniques and Rules
- Solicit quality ideas.
- Rule: Encourage the generation of lots of creative ideas.
- Encourage everyone to participate.
- Rule: Quantity is wanted - every idea is accepted and recorded. The more ideas, the more to choose from and the more likely ideas will spark new ideas.
- Encourage freewheeling and expression of different ideas.
- Rule: "Freewheeling" is welcomed. Freewheeling means the wilder the idea, the better. It is always easier to tame an idea than to make one more exciting.
- Do not criticize or evaluate ideas.
- Rule: Criticism is ruled out. Suspend judgment. Every idea is welcome without critique or ridicule.
- Build upon other group members' ideas.
- Rule: Combination and improvement are sought. Ideas spark more ideas. Encourage everyone to participate and to build upon the ideas of others in the group.
- Record ideas accurately during the session.
- Rule: Record the ideas. It is crucial to record the ideas generated during a brainstorming session.
Factors for Effective Brainstorming
Brainstorming sessions are most successful when you make sure that certain factors exist before the beginning of a brainstorming session. These factors include:
- A well-defined and clearly stated problem that needs to be addressed during the session.
- A group member assigned to act as recorder and write down all the ideas as they are shared.
- The right number of people.
Clues for determining the "right" group size:
- You don't have trouble scheduling the brainstorming session.
- You don't have individuals or factions of the group at war with each other.
- Work is divided equitably among group members.
- You are able to reach consensus.
- You are able to generate new and creative ideas to think about.
- Keep your ideas clear.
Questions to keep in mind in order to make sure ideas are clear
- How similar or diverse are the backgrounds of people in the group?
- How wide is the range of technical skills and subject knowledge in the group?
- Is there background information that needs to be presented to make the idea clear?
- A group member assigned to enforce the guidelines/rules you have set.
Brainstorming Evaluation Checklist
There are several questions that you should keep in mind during the evaluation of a brainstorming session.
- How well did group members avoid evaluating the ideas presented?
- How well did group members think up different topics or broad ideas?
- How well did group members build, expand, or combine others ideas?
- How well did group members actively participate?
- How well did group members listen to one another?
- How well did group members solicit ideas from other group members?
- How well did group members avoid critiquing others ideas?
- Did the group have a mediator? How did the group mediator function?
- Did the group have a recorder to write down the ideas the members generated? How well did the group keep a record of its ideas?