Brainstorming Technique

Developed by Alex Osborn, the brainstorming method was designed to separate idea generation from idea evaluation. It has the objective of moving people into a nurturing, supportive atmosphere of freewheeling thoughts. Ideas are stimulated through hearing others’ ideas. The emphasis is on quantity of ideas, using the philosophy that quantity produces quality.

Procedure for use:

William Miller suggests the following ground rules for effective brainstorming:

1. Pick a problem/opportunity where each person has the knowledge and motivation to contribute.

2. Define the problem in neutral terms rather than referencing a pre-selected solution. E.g., “How do we get this job done?” rather than “How do we get this person or this group to do this job?”

3. Record the ideas on flip charts or large pieces of paper where everyone can see them.

4. Suspend evaluation or judgment until all ideas have been given.

5. Stretch for ideas.

6. When you think you’ve got all the ideas, go for another round, being even more outrageous in possible solutions.

7. Aim for quantity to help find quality.

8. Accept all ideas, even weak ones.

9. Encourage embellishment and building on ideas.

Example for use:

Almost everyone reading this page has used the brainstorming technique. It would be useful for almost any situation where a multitude of ideas need to be generated in order to identify two or three useable ideas.

Examples are:
• Identifying new products or services
• Generating new ways to solve a continual problem or perplexing situation
• Finding new approaches to replace old, out-of-date approaches
• Delineating many alternatives