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What is Brainstorming

A team-oriented method, where the team together creatively thinks and shares freely on the topic. The topic can be anything - what should we name our team/ product, what are the causes of a problem, new products, setting team rules.....

Team Talk
When to use Brainstorming
  • To generate thoughts on a topic/ problem

  • When you need a large list of creative ideas

  • To generate sense of ownership to an idea (team, product, issue)

How to do Brainstorming
  • Figure out whom to invite – those who "do the work" are a must

  • If possible avoid having bosses in the room 

  • If the time for sessions is less, give them notice to prepare

  • Preferably a single table arrangement

  • You may write the topic/draw process map on the board

  • You may also display customer sentiment/process data in the room

  • Explain the objectives and rules

  • Ask the team for any additional rules

  • Appoint a scribe- who will note down the ideas/issues on board or directly projecting on a screen

  • Encourage them to come up with ideas/issues

  • Beware of "blamestorming" (it's not us - its the other department /customer/ govt)

  • Encourage participation from all

  • Allow for silence - its help team focus and think 

  • Remember you are going for a large list - so keep digging, ask what else

  • Encourage them to build on each other's ideas

  • Welcome wild ideas - change perspective by asking  "what if"scenarios, tell them to imagine - "day in the life of xxx"

  • An ideal amount of time would be 1-2 hours, the target for 100 line items ( issues/ ideas) ...its OK if you get less

  • Brainstorming can be followed by various  distillation, prioritization techniques

  • At the end remember to thank the group, celebrate the collaboration and keep them updated with outputs of their efforts

  • Free Wheeling : spontaneous flow of ideas by all team members

  • Round Robin : Team members take turns suggesting ideas 

  • Card method : Team members write ideas on cards with no discussion -

cards can then be pasted on the board according to a structure ( affinity mapping)

anonymous cards can be collected, voted on by show of hands (nominal group technique)

cards can be passed on the next person , who may add to the idea -- goes on, until everyone has their cards back ( group passing technique)

Rules of Brainstorming

Defer judgment 

No criticism - not even with the body language of facilitator

We are going for divergent thoughts ( and don't need all to agree to everything that's been said - right now)

Avoid "group-think" - one says something and everyone either follows or gangs up  on the person or debates on the idea

Elaboration on an idea should be time-bound or done later

Don't starting solving an issue (if you are writing issues)

Avoid cross-talking - one person - one idea at a time

Keep them focused by pointing to the topic on the board

Traffic Sign
What's next after Brainstorming

Post brainstorming session - you will have a large list - what to do now ( some of the steps may not be required depending upon the type of brainstorming you did)

  • Collate all ideas in one sheet (Excel please)

  • Go thru - do you/expert understand all of them ( handwriting/ grammar becomes an issue sometimes)

  • Can you go back to the originator to understand

  • Now remove the duplicates ( for sanctity keep the original sheet separate)

  • Next, affinitise them - look for ways to put the similar ones together - by impacted area, by region, by type of issue... 

  • Once done - you may go back to the group to get these voted upon based on criteria ( impact/ cost ...)

  • You should have a distilled list now

  • If required a smaller team may brainstorm on them to further evolve/develop the idea

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