Monday, May 18, 2009

Methods of brainstorming


1. Brainstorming is a process design to obtain maximum number of ideas relating to a specific area of interest

2. A technique that maximizes the ability to generate new ideas.

Good brainstorming focuses on the quantity and creativity of ideas: the quality of ideas is much less important than the sheer quantity. After ideas are generated, they are often grouped into categories and prioritized for subsequent research or application.

Methods of brainstorming:

Brainstorming is done with a group of people, which may be as small as two, but usually no larger than 12. One of the group should be nominated as facilitator. It is useful if the facilitator has had previous experience of brainstorming. The group should be assembled, and the facilitator should explain to the group: firstly the problem or idea to be explored; and secondly, the sequence of events that will take place during the method.
There are broadly speaking two phases:
1. nurturant or ideas phase
2. Analytical phase.
Nurturant phase:
In the nurturant phase, members of the group put forward ideas about the set topic or problem. Be aware of three important issues:
• ensure that everyone in the group has an equal opportunity to put ideas forward
• nobody in the group should criticise ideas put forward or attempt to evaluate them in any way
• All the ideas put forward should be part of a record everyone can see.
Participants may be invited to take turns to present one and only one idea at a time, in a round-the-table fashion. If convenient, post-its may be used as follows:
• every participant has a stack of post-its
• participants write down their ideas on their own post-its at any time
• when it is a person's turn to present an idea, they present the idea on the best of their post-its, and then fix the post-it onto a wall where everyone else can see it
• post-its should initially be arranged in a haphazard fashion.
Alternatively a white-board or computer may be used: anything that will enable the entire group to see what ideas have been generated so far.
The end of the nurturant phase will be apparent, as the speed of ideas slows down.
Analytical phase:
In this phase similar ideas are brought together, and ideas which are impractical or incorrect are modified or discarded. Ideas may be combined and new ideas may be generated.
However, the objective of this phase is to tidy up the wealth of ideas generated in the nurturant phase, and to filter the ideas through the critical faculties of the group.
If post-its have been used, they may be physically moved around and post-its which act as summaries may be generated, perhaps in a different colours. Otherwise coloured pens may be used on the whiteboard to indicate links between ideas.
The facilitator may from time attempt to summarize by recounting the clusters of ideas that have been formed, why the group thinks some clusters of ideas are more promising, and others less.
As the analytical phase draws to a close, the facilitator should attempt to get the group to rank the clusters of ideas in order of priority, promise, or acceptability.

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