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Brainstorming. A great overview of techniques and how to run your very own brainstorming workshop.

Brainstorming. A great overview of techniques and how to run your very own brainstorming workshop.

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  • 1. Brainstorming Concepts and Planning Chris Bernard, User Experience Evangelist, Microsoft This presentation is a collection of techniques I use for brainstorming sessions. Brainstorming is often misunderstood or used ineffectively. Hopefully you’ll find some of these concepts helpful. The are techniques I been taught at the Institute of Design and have refined in my work at IBM and at Microsoft. It’s a great starting point for understanding how brainstorming can work for you. February 2008
  • 2. Topics for Discussion
    • Our goals
    • Defined
    • Setting the right environment
    • A sampling of methods
    • Where you can learn more
    • Resources
    Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09
  • 3. Our goals for today’s session
    • Define what brainstorming is and why it matters
    • Share some basic techniques
    • Understand when to use it
    • Learn how to prepare ourselves for the activity
    • Enable you to learn more on your own
    • Have a dialog about the concepts as we step through them
    Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09
  • 4. So, what is brainstorming?
    • Brainstorming is a social process for generating new thinking around problems and challenges (theories, technology, ideas, services, products).
    • It involves coming up with many, often radical, ideas based on a set of assumptions or constraints that can take many formats.
    • It recognizes the principle that our brains are ‘pattern recognition systems’ and that we sometimes get ‘stuck’ with patterns and think within them versus outside of them.
    • Brainstorming helps us think outside of traditional the patterns we are programmed with to think of new ideas.
    Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09 Source: James Manktelow, Edward de Bono
  • 5. Programmed thinking versus lateral thinking
    • Another way to think of brainstorming is to understand what it’s not and how it differs from something we do often in our day to day jobs— programmed thinking.
    • Programmed thinking is using a structured or logical framework to create a product, system or service. GS Method, general project management, information design, and quantitative and morphological analysis all represent programmed thinking.
    • Lateral thinking is about jumping outside of traditional patterns that we use to solve problems.
    • Brainstorming is different from the structural process that we often use on projects, but both methods have a time and place in our toolkit when used correctly.
    Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09 Source: James Manktelow, Edward de Bono
  • 6. Where programmed thinking works
    • In the analysis or research stage of a project
    • In the detailed design of a product, service or system that has been identified
    • Root cause analysis
    Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09 Source: James Manktelow
  • 7. Where Lateral thinking works
    • In improving an existing concept
    • Generating radical ideas
    • Making creative leaps
    • What are some areas in your company where you can use lateral thinking?
    Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09 Source: James Manktelow
  • 8. Why should I care?
    • Lateral thinking leads to breakthrough discoveries and innovation that can’t be derived from solving the same problem the same way, it’s the difference between developing incremental innovations versus breakthrough innovations.
    • Breakthrough innovations, and our competency in practicing techniques that can provide them enhances our ability to provide value to customers.
    Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09 Source: James Manktelow
  • 9. The first step: Setting the right environment
    • All successful brainstorming activities hinge on team effectiveness
    • In our culture team effectiveness typically follows a model of:
      • Results : What are we trying to accomplish
      • Action : Who, what, when
      • How : Plans and strategies
      • Possibility : Stating what is possible
      • Relationship : Shared and aligned commitments
    Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09 Source: Doblin
  • 10. But that model, in that order, doesn’t work for us
    • Teams rarely get a chance to focus on the possibility and relationship domains unless this model is reversed.
    • Getting a team aligned and comfortable around the domains of relationship and possibility is critical for successful brainstorming.
    • Without alignment, teams can’t make the emotional investment that’s required to solve the problem—there’s no skin in the game.
    Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09 Source: Doblin
  • 11. We need to ensure that the following occurs
    • Relationship
      • Avoiding background conversations (or sharing them with everyone)
      • Listening
      • Leave personal biases behind
      • Granting trust
      • Being responsible
      • Recognizing who people are ‘being’ when expressing ideas
    • Possibility
      • It’s about allowing dialog and not debates.
      • Letting all team members know their voice counts.
      • Making inspiring commitments without evidence that we know they can be accomplished.
    Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09 Source: Doblin
  • 12. Preparing yourself and your team: Location
    • A location should be comfortable and isolated from distractions. You’ll need:
      • At least an hour, probably two
      • Paper
      • Sharpies
      • Post It Notes
      • Tape
      • White board or dry erase boards
      • Sugar and caffeine never hurts
    Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09 Source: Scott Berkun
  • 13. Preparing yourself and your team: Purpose
    • Good brainstorming sessions are not random in planning
      • Prep your team with a series of questions or problems that your trying to solve (remember, we’re not talking results).
      • Provide supporting information in advance that the team can review (prepare this data, focused brevity is better than data overload that nobody has time to look at).
      • Focus on contextual research, primary and secondary research.
      • For short or last minute sessions consider giving an overview of this data as part of your session.
    Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09 Source: Scott Berkun
  • 14. Communication with your team: Results
    • Know what you’re going to want to do with this data after you’ve gathered it.
    • Tell your team what’s going to happen with the data generated (nobody likes ideas that disappear in a desk drawer).
    • Establish and communicate the process you will use to select and refine ideas.
    Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09 Source: Scott Berkun
  • 15. Working with your team: Facilitate
    • Have a clear leader in the session, a person responsible for:
      • Listening
      • Helping people express ideas
      • Getting ideas on the wall
      • Running the white board
      • Moderating conversations (managing interruptions and giving the floor all people in the session)
      • Maintain the ‘velocity’ of the session
      • It’s okay (even encouraged) for the moderator to generate ideas as well, but their primary task is to effectively facilitate the environment where other participants can accomplish that goal.
    Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09 Source: Scott Berkun
  • 16. Working with your team: Volume and comfort
    • Brainstorming is a volume business
      • We are going for the number of ideas, not the quality of each idea.
      • Encourage participants to build on the ideas of others and generate as many unique ideas as possible.
      • As a facilitator get these ideas on the wall so everyone can see them.
      • Encouraging the group to build on ideas is a critical task for the facilitator, you’ll often be moving too fast to differentiate between good ideas and bad ideas during this stage.
    Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09 Source: Scott Berkun
  • 17. Working with your team: Ground rules
    • People hate feeling silly or stupid in front of their peers, that’s why it’s important to…
    • … Have a code of conduct that everyone on the team understands
      • Postpone (or eliminate criticism)
      • Jointly define a code of conduct before you begin your meeting (i.e. with a focus on how to communicate, document, expand on ideas, etc.)
    Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09 Source: Scott Berkun
  • 18. A simple approach for a three hour Brainstorm (1)
    • Define a series of 4 questions or problems that you’re trying to solve.
    • Send out a briefing package that a participant can review in less than half an hour. (Limit participants to between 8 to 20 people).
    • Get your team together and give them a half hour overview of your set of problems, give them the opportunity to ask questions.
    • Tackle each question as a discrete activity (For large teams consider dividing the room into subgroups that each tackle the problem from a specific perspective).
    Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09
  • 19. A simple approach for a three hour Brainstorm (2)
    • Spend 10 minutes having your team generate as many concepts as possible by sketching or writing concepts on an 8.5 by 11 sheet of paper with a Sharpie.
    • For each concept developed by a group or sub-group, number the concept and put it up on a wall or in a place where everyone can see it.
    • Set goals for your team (a modest goal is 6 to 8 concepts per participant, high performance teams can often generate 10 to 15 concepts per person in 10 minutes).
    • Spend the next 20 minutes having each team explain their ideas to the entire group (Consider having each team pick their 3 to 5 best ideas).
    • Move on to the next question and repeat the process until all questions are complete.
    • By the end of this process you should have been able to generate dozens of ideas and filter them down into a manageable collection of what you feel are the most promising ideas.
    Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09
  • 20. Some suggestions before you embark on a brainstorm
    • This process can appear intimidating
    • Try it out internally first
    • Only use with customers that you know and are familiar with or that you can clearly communicate the process to in advance
    • If you are using the team to make decisions as well make sure you employ a shared evaluation tool (i.e. a voting system using post its or sticky dots)
    Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09
  • 21. Enhance a brainstorming session by introducing the following lateral thinking concepts
      • Reversal
      • SCAMPER
      • Random Input
      • Provocation
    Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09
  • 22. Reversal
    • Ask the opposite of the question or problem you are trying to solve, then apply the results
      • “ How can we make customer service worse?”
      • “ How could we make this kiosk harder to use?”
      • “ What’s the hardest way to build this site?”
      • “ What can we do to not win this business?”
    Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09 Source: James Manktelow
  • 23. SCAMPER
    • S ubstitute—components, material, people
      • For example, using high tech materials to enhance a product, like stainless steel, carbon fiber
    • C ombine—mix, combine, with other products, services or technology
      • For example, the iPod and iTunes Music Store
    • A dapt—alter, change function, use part of another element
      • For example, the Baygen radio that needs no batteries, due to a hand crank, from cell phones to VOIP phones
    • M odify—increase or reduce in scale, change shape, modify attributes
      • For example, GE Aviation, from “We make jet engines” to “We’re in the propulsion business”
    • P ut to Another Use
      • For example, using baking soda as tooth paste or a deodorizer
    • E liminate—remove elements, make as simple as possible
      • For example, Basecamp versus SharePoint or Quick place, a Bose 3,2,1 versus a typical home theatre
    • R everse—turn inside out or upside down (similar to reversal)
      • Make a PDA into a remote control, a car into an entertainment center
    Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09 Source: James Manktelow and Alex Osborn
  • 24. Random Input
    • Making creative leaps by linking one thinking pattern to another
      • For example, using a movie pitch analogy to describe a purchase experience or user group, “It’s Lord of the Rings meets Dumb and Dumber!”
    • Simple methods may involve using a noun for a simple item that can be seen or touched
      • For example, use a noun like ‘garbage’ in terms of designing a product might prompt a discussion on how to create a product more efficiently and in generating less waste during manufacturing.
    • More advanced methods might involve the use of concepts that are randomly applied to your problem (Creative Whack Packs from Roger von Oech)
      • For example, apply a random statement from a Whack Pack like “How is your ego adversely affecting your judgment?”
    Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09 Source: James Manktelow, Roger von Oech
  • 25. Provocation
    • Making a deliberately provocative statement to spur a discussion
      • “ What if we made a cell phone that didn’t have a keypad?”
      • “ What if we decided to sell a $5.00 cup of coffee?”
    • We then use that provocation to suspend judgment and generate ideas, we can:
      • Explore the consequences of the statement
      • Explore the benefits
      • What special circumstances would make it a sensible solution
      • The principles needed to support it and make it work
      • How it would work
    Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09 Source: James Manktelow, Edward de Bono
  • 26. What next?
    • Look for future sessions that help teams:
      • Analyze ideas
      • Synthesize options
      • Visualize concepts
      • Communicate ideas
    Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09
  • 27. Resources
    • Web
      • Mind Tools , James Manktelow
      • Leading a Brainstorm , Scott Berkun
    • Books
      • Lateral Thinking , Edward De Bono
      • A Whack on the Side of the Head , Roger von Oech
    Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09