A Portfolio of Brainstorming Techniques

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I need an idea stat! From the Nominal Group Technique, to the Lotus Blossom Approach, to the good old fashioned shower, this session will present many methods for generating ideas and finding the …

I need an idea stat! From the Nominal Group Technique, to the Lotus Blossom Approach, to the good old fashioned shower, this session will present many methods for generating ideas and finding the winners. Attendees are sure to walk away both prepared and inspired to conduct their next brainstorming session.

Video of this presentation available here: http://www.madpow.net/mad-pow-our-company-events.html

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  • We both introduce ourselves

Transcript

  • 1. Amy Cueva Founder & C.X.O Mad*Pow [email_address] www.madpow.net Chauncey E. Wilson Senior User Researcher Autodesk, Inc. [email_address] www.autodesk.com UPA, June 2008
  • 2.
    • Act 1: The history and fundamentals of brainstorming
    • Act 2: Best/bad practices of group brainstorming
    • Act 3: Group & individual brainstorming alternatives
    • Act 4: Questions?
  • 3.
  • 4.
    • In the early part of the 20 th century, “brain storm” referred to violent bouts of temper or bouts of lethargy and depression. Toward the middle of the 20 th century, the usage of “brainstorm” changed to mean “sudden and fortunate thoughts” (OED, 1989). The phrase “brain storm session” was probably first used in the mid 1950s to describe the process of generating solutions to problems from small groups (Osborn, 1963).
    “ Brain-storms” as Mental Disease and Fortunate Thoughts
  • 5.
    • Alex Osborn defined most of the rules for modern brainstorming. His work Applied Imagination laid down most of the principles for modern brainstorming.
  • 6.
  • 7.
    • Quantity, not quality, is the sole goal.
    • Defer judgment about the quality of ideas.
    • Wild ideas are welcome and new ideas can be formed by synthesizing ideas, stretching ideas (bigger, faster), applying metaphors, or improving on existing ideas.
  • 8.
        • Three major barriers to successful group brainstorming:
          • “ Production Blocking”
          • Social loafing
          • Evaluation apprehension
  • 9.
  • 10.
    • “ Group brainstorming is much better than having individuals just write their ideas down and hand them in.”
  • 11.
    • “ Brainstorming groups should have as much diversity as possible to maximize the number of ideas”
  • 12.
    • “ Managers should attend brainstorming sessions so they know who has good ideas and should be promoted”
  • 13.
    • “ Making brainstorming sessions competitive – telling people that you want to get “at least 200 ideas” will make people nervous and stifle idea generation”
  • 14.
    • “ Members of a brainstorming team should be assigned ‘homework’ before the session.”
  • 15.
    • “ The more rules you have for brainstorming, the better your session will be. ”
  • 16.
    • A summary
  • 17.
    • Thinking that you need a formal group to brainstorm; individual and group brainstorming can complement each other
    • Not being clear on the goal of the brainstorming
    • Evaluating people on their brainstorming performance
    • Thinking that anyone can facilitate
      • Having too many people for a single group or having only “experts”
    • Too much or too little diversity (strangers in our midst)
      • No explicit ground rules
      • Not addressing violations of the ground rules
      • Having managers and employees in the same session
      • Not understanding the culture
      • Not setting the appropriate climate for brainstorming
      • Not warming up
  • 18.
      • Determine what brainstorming techniques to use in the session
      • Ask participants to do individual brainstorming before the group session
      • Give social permission to think out of the box and be creative. Be silly, bring toys
    • Hand out the ground rules to everyone and post them on the wall during the session
    • Don’t have anyone take notes on a laptop
    • Don’t let participants take notes
    • Make everything visible and put on large sheets of paper
    • Consider a U-shape arrangement with the facilitator at the open end of the U
    • Have lots of sheets ready or a camera so you don’t slow the brainstorming down
  • 19.
      • Encourage a non-dismissive approach - all ideas are welcome
    • Be clear about the specific problem you are trying to solve. Write it where everyone can clearly see it
    • Who are we solving/designing for? Quickly re-visit target personas. Possibly designate people to be that persona for the session
    • Consider a warm up activity, especially if you have a pretty new group
    • Competition – set a goal that exceeds your expectations
    • Take short breaks (5 minutes) every 15-20 minutes
    • Number the items
    • Consider breaking problems or issues into several pieces
    • One person speaks at a time
    • Be aware of subtle criticism and point to the list of ground rules if someone violates the no-criticism principle
  • 20.
    • So you’ve got Slinkies and yoga balls, you’re sitting in a no-judgment brainstorming session, and yet you can’t seem to produce any brilliant innovations… what could be wrong?
    • Change the way you’re sitting or rotate positions. Remember, your environment should be judgment-free
    • Play the opposites game (reverse brainstorming). Instead of asking: “How many uses can you come up with for a brick?” Well, you’ve come up with 15 ideas and you are completely stuck. Then ask yourself… what can’t you use a brick for?
    • Prepare a checklist of techniques for expanding ideas
      • Modify, minify, magnify, substitute
    • Consider using the moment of silence
  • 21.
  • 22.
    • Free listing (Sinha, 2003) involves asking individual participants or a group to:
    • List as many ideas or items as possible.
    • On a specific topic or question.
    • In a short period of time, often just a few minutes.
    •  
    • Free listing is a research technique used by cognitive anthropologists to uncover how different cultural groups classify concepts (Trotter & Schensul, 1998).
  • 23.
    • What topics would you like to see covered at the next UPA?
    • You have 1 minute to write down as many topics as you can.
    • Answers can be found next week at www.madpow.net
  • 24.
    • Brainwriting is an alternative to traditional brainstorming that is done with little or no interaction with other people
    • Procedure 1
      • Present a group with a request for ideas
      • Ask people to write down ideas
      • Take those ideas and pass them to another person who reads the ideas and adds several more
      • Iterate several times (generally taking no more than 5-15 minutes)
    • Procedure 2
      • Hand pages out to each person
      • Ask the person to write 3 ideas on a page and put it in a pile and take one from the pile (or a clean sheet), read the items and add a few more
      • Repeat several times and collect all the pages
    • Twist: This method could be tried via email
  • 25.
    • How can you promote the importance of user-centered design in your organization?
    • Answers can be found next week at www.madpow.net
  • 26.
    • Graphical round robin brainstorming for rapidly generating interface concepts
    • The results are many candidate designs with ideas from the whole product team
    • Useful for conceptual design, ideas for icons, screen layouts, new feature designs
    • Requires people to draw quickly and show their results to others on the team
    • First sketches are original, but a problem is “fixation”
    • Twist: This could be tried in “asynchronous” fashion in a group area
    Braindrawing for the concept “Filter Object”
  • 27.
    • Group brainstorming with some privacy built in
    • Designed to eliminate some of the social inhibitors
    • Participants are given a problem or topic and asked to write down ideas on a card privately
    • Then all the ideas are listed on a board
    • No criticism is allowed when the ideas are read out
    • When all ideas are listed publicly, the facilitator reviews each idea
    • If clarification is needed, the person who proposed the idea has 10-20 seconds to explain (but not defend, refute, or sell the idea)
    • The ideas are then ranked or rated PRIVATELY by members of the group. This is the critical step since it eliminates issues of status
    Ideas Rankings by 6 Participants Total Twist: This could be conducted via email and online survey
  • 28.
    • Structured brainstorming
    • Can be a group or individual activity
    • Starts with a central subject or question which is expanded into themes which are then expanded again (and again).
    Central Problem Goes Here
  • 29.
    • Organize your thinking around significant themes related to a particular issue or question
    • Procedure
      • Write the central problem in the center of the diagram. “How can we increase productivity or reduce costs?
      • Write the significant themes, components or dimensions of your subject in the surrounding circles labeled A to H surrounding the central theme. L3.
      • Use the ideas written in the circles as the central themes for the surrounding lotus blossom petals or boxes. It now becomes the basis for generating eight new ideas
      • Continue the process until the lotus blossom diagram is completed.
    H G F E D C B A H A B C D E F G A1 A2 A3 G1 A4 A5 A6 A7 A3 Add Value