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Wednesday, February 3, 2010


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  • It is one of the most known, simplest possible and most economic creative problem solving techniques.
  • Meaning of brainstorming is to activate the brain for spontaneous discussion in search for new ideas.
  • The technique is essentially used by the participants in a group setting. So, it is a group participation activity. It unlocks the creative power of a group.
  • Brainstorming was developed by Alex F Osborn in 1939.
  • Osborn opined that groups could double their creative output with brainstorming.
  • In addition to increasing the productivity of groups, additional advantages of brainstorming are: improving team work and team building, morale enhancement, congenial work environment creation.

Where Brainstorming Can be Used?

  • For selection of a problem.
  • For finding out all possible causes of a problem.
  • For generating a lot of alternative solutions to a problem.
  • For finding out the best solution(s) to a problem.
  • It is most suited for well defined, multi-answer, fairly well defined problem with few constraints.

Brainstorming is obviously not an appropriate technique where the problem has a unique solution that can be reached by analysis e.g. the square root of 10 million.

It is also not very fruitful if the topic selected is vague. The members will carry different frame of reference and ideas generated will have diffused applicability. For example: “how to get ahead in life” may generate many ideas but since what is means to get ahead is not clear, the ideas generated are likely to be too disparate. On the other hand, how to get promoted in a particular organization is likely to yield more pointedly useful solutions.

Brainstorming Process: the Steps

  1. Before a brainstorming session, the problem is carefully defined. The problem, then, is presented to the brainstorming group or brainstorming panel by the brainstorming leader or facilitator.
  2. The problem should be stated as clearly as possible so that there is no misunderstanding about what it is. The more precise the problem, the better.
  3. The selection of the participants of the group should be carefully done. A group of 7 to 10 members is normally thought to be optimal.
  4. The leader (or facilitator) requests one idea at a time from each member of the panel. This goes on for several rounds until all ideas of the group have been exhausted. Members may say “pass” when they have no ideas during any round.
  5. All the ideas should be recorded. No idea should be dropped. In brainstorming all ideas are thought to be good ideas.
  6. Finally, large number of ideas thus collected are critically examined and narrowed down. In the interest of time, simple voting technique is used. It works because members are normally experts in their areas. Members vote on each idea. The leader records each vote next to the idea. Members can vote as many ideas as they feel have value. Only supporting votes are taken. No one is asked to vote against an idea. Draw a circle around those ideas that receive the most votes.
  7. Members decide how many of the top ideas will be so identified. Sometimes ideas are grouped in different categories to facilitate voting.
  8. These important ideas are again voted on. Usually each member gets only one vote at this time. Write the ranking number beside each idea that has been circled. A member can halt the voting on any idea and argue for or against it.

Basic Principles of Brainstorming

  1. Defer evaluation during the phase of generating ideas. No criticism of any ideas should be allowed in a brainstorming session. Good natured laughter and informality should be encouraged to enhance the climate for innovative activity.
  2. Hitch-hike on previously expressed ideas. Encourage freewheeling and get more and more ideas however bad or silly they may appear to be in the first place.
  3. Another way of idea generation is to combine more than two or several ideas to form a single better idea. Process of association can also be used to create new ideas.
  4. Quantity begets quality. The more ideas are generated, the higher is the probability of hitting some brilliant ones. One interesting finding is that better ideas are produced in the second half of a brainstorming session than in the first half.
  5. The more fantastic the ideas, the better. A fantastic idea- one that does not at all seem a practical idea- serves the important function of demolishing conventional patterns of thinking. While the idea itself may not be practicable, it may trigger other ideas that might not only be novel but also useful.
  6. Give equal opportunity to all members in the group to participate. For some it may take courage to start. Be patient. Welcome and encourage their ideas.
  7. Select the best idea(s) after thoroughly scrutinizing all ideas coming up during brainstorming.

For More Guidance, Assistance, Training and Consultation


Training in "Brainstorming" and other "Creative Problem Solving Techniques" is provided by Prodcons Group's Mr Shyam Bhatawdekar, the renowned management consultant, ace business executive and trainer- par excellence, with distinction of having trained over 150,000 professionals from around 250 organizations.

Also refer: (Prodcons Group), (Training Programs by Prodcons Group), (Productivity Consultants)

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