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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 <ul><li>Our goals </li></ul><ul><li>Defined </li></ul><ul><li>Setting the right environment </li></ul><ul><li>A sampling of methods </li></ul><ul><li>Where you can learn more </li></ul><ul><li>Resources </li></ul>Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09
  3. Our goals for today’s session <ul><li>Define what brainstorming is and why it matters </li></ul><ul><li>Share some basic techniques </li></ul><ul><li>Understand when to use it </li></ul><ul><li>Learn how to prepare ourselves for the activity </li></ul><ul><li>Enable you to learn more on your own </li></ul><ul><li>Have a dialog about the concepts as we step through them </li></ul>Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09
  4. So, what is brainstorming? <ul><li>Brainstorming is a social process for generating new thinking around problems and challenges (theories, technology, ideas, services, products). </li></ul><ul><li>It involves coming up with many, often radical, ideas based on a set of assumptions or constraints that can take many formats. </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul><ul><li>Brainstorming helps us think outside of traditional the patterns we are programmed with to think of new ideas. </li></ul>Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09 Source: James Manktelow, Edward de Bono
  5. Programmed thinking versus lateral thinking <ul><li>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. </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul><ul><li>Lateral thinking is about jumping outside of traditional patterns that we use to solve problems. </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul>Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09 Source: James Manktelow, Edward de Bono
  6. Where programmed thinking works <ul><li>In the analysis or research stage of a project </li></ul><ul><li>In the detailed design of a product, service or system that has been identified </li></ul><ul><li>Root cause analysis </li></ul>Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09 Source: James Manktelow
  7. Where Lateral thinking works <ul><li>In improving an existing concept </li></ul><ul><li>Generating radical ideas </li></ul><ul><li>Making creative leaps </li></ul><ul><li>What are some areas in your company where you can use lateral thinking? </li></ul>Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09 Source: James Manktelow
  8. Why should I care? <ul><li>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. </li></ul><ul><li>Breakthrough innovations, and our competency in practicing techniques that can provide them enhances our ability to provide value to customers. </li></ul>Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09 Source: James Manktelow
  9. The first step: Setting the right environment <ul><li>All successful brainstorming activities hinge on team effectiveness </li></ul><ul><li>In our culture team effectiveness typically follows a model of: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Results : What are we trying to accomplish </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Action : Who, what, when </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How : Plans and strategies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Possibility : Stating what is possible </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Relationship : Shared and aligned commitments </li></ul></ul>Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09 Source: Doblin
  10. But that model, in that order, doesn’t work for us <ul><li>Teams rarely get a chance to focus on the possibility and relationship domains unless this model is reversed. </li></ul><ul><li>Getting a team aligned and comfortable around the domains of relationship and possibility is critical for successful brainstorming. </li></ul><ul><li>Without alignment, teams can’t make the emotional investment that’s required to solve the problem—there’s no skin in the game. </li></ul>Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09 Source: Doblin
  11. We need to ensure that the following occurs <ul><li>Relationship </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Avoiding background conversations (or sharing them with everyone) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Listening </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Leave personal biases behind </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Granting trust </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Being responsible </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Recognizing who people are ‘being’ when expressing ideas </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Possibility </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It’s about allowing dialog and not debates. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Letting all team members know their voice counts. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Making inspiring commitments without evidence that we know they can be accomplished. </li></ul></ul>Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09 Source: Doblin
  12. Preparing yourself and your team: Location <ul><li>A location should be comfortable and isolated from distractions. You’ll need: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>At least an hour, probably two </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Paper </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sharpies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Post It Notes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tape </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>White board or dry erase boards </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sugar and caffeine never hurts </li></ul></ul>Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09 Source: Scott Berkun
  13. Preparing yourself and your team: Purpose <ul><li>Good brainstorming sessions are not random in planning </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Prep your team with a series of questions or problems that your trying to solve (remember, we’re not talking results). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>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). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Focus on contextual research, primary and secondary research. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>For short or last minute sessions consider giving an overview of this data as part of your session. </li></ul></ul>Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09 Source: Scott Berkun
  14. Communication with your team: Results <ul><li>Know what you’re going to want to do with this data after you’ve gathered it. </li></ul><ul><li>Tell your team what’s going to happen with the data generated (nobody likes ideas that disappear in a desk drawer). </li></ul><ul><li>Establish and communicate the process you will use to select and refine ideas. </li></ul>Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09 Source: Scott Berkun
  15. Working with your team: Facilitate <ul><li>Have a clear leader in the session, a person responsible for: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Listening </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Helping people express ideas </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Getting ideas on the wall </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Running the white board </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Moderating conversations (managing interruptions and giving the floor all people in the session) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Maintain the ‘velocity’ of the session </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul></ul>Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09 Source: Scott Berkun
  16. Working with your team: Volume and comfort <ul><li>Brainstorming is a volume business </li></ul><ul><ul><li>We are going for the number of ideas, not the quality of each idea. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Encourage participants to build on the ideas of others and generate as many unique ideas as possible. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>As a facilitator get these ideas on the wall so everyone can see them. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul></ul>Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09 Source: Scott Berkun
  17. Working with your team: Ground rules <ul><li>People hate feeling silly or stupid in front of their peers, that’s why it’s important to… </li></ul><ul><li>… Have a code of conduct that everyone on the team understands </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Postpone (or eliminate criticism) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>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.) </li></ul></ul>Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09 Source: Scott Berkun
  18. A simple approach for a three hour Brainstorm (1) <ul><li>Define a series of 4 questions or problems that you’re trying to solve. </li></ul><ul><li>Send out a briefing package that a participant can review in less than half an hour. (Limit participants to between 8 to 20 people). </li></ul><ul><li>Get your team together and give them a half hour overview of your set of problems, give them the opportunity to ask questions. </li></ul><ul><li>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). </li></ul>Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09
  19. A simple approach for a three hour Brainstorm (2) <ul><li>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. </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul><ul><li>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). </li></ul><ul><li>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). </li></ul><ul><li>Move on to the next question and repeat the process until all questions are complete. </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul>Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09
  20. Some suggestions before you embark on a brainstorm <ul><li>This process can appear intimidating </li></ul><ul><li>Try it out internally first </li></ul><ul><li>Only use with customers that you know and are familiar with or that you can clearly communicate the process to in advance </li></ul><ul><li>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) </li></ul>Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09
  21. Enhance a brainstorming session by introducing the following lateral thinking concepts <ul><ul><li>Reversal </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>SCAMPER </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Random Input </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provocation </li></ul></ul>Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09
  22. Reversal <ul><li>Ask the opposite of the question or problem you are trying to solve, then apply the results </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ How can we make customer service worse?” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ How could we make this kiosk harder to use?” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ What’s the hardest way to build this site?” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ What can we do to not win this business?” </li></ul></ul>Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09 Source: James Manktelow
  23. SCAMPER <ul><li>S ubstitute—components, material, people </li></ul><ul><ul><li>For example, using high tech materials to enhance a product, like stainless steel, carbon fiber </li></ul></ul><ul><li>C ombine—mix, combine, with other products, services or technology </li></ul><ul><ul><li>For example, the iPod and iTunes Music Store </li></ul></ul><ul><li>A dapt—alter, change function, use part of another element </li></ul><ul><ul><li>For example, the Baygen radio that needs no batteries, due to a hand crank, from cell phones to VOIP phones </li></ul></ul><ul><li>M odify—increase or reduce in scale, change shape, modify attributes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>For example, GE Aviation, from “We make jet engines” to “We’re in the propulsion business” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>P ut to Another Use </li></ul><ul><ul><li>For example, using baking soda as tooth paste or a deodorizer </li></ul></ul><ul><li>E liminate—remove elements, make as simple as possible </li></ul><ul><ul><li>For example, Basecamp versus SharePoint or Quick place, a Bose 3,2,1 versus a typical home theatre </li></ul></ul><ul><li>R everse—turn inside out or upside down (similar to reversal) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Make a PDA into a remote control, a car into an entertainment center </li></ul></ul>Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09 Source: James Manktelow and Alex Osborn
  24. Random Input <ul><li>Making creative leaps by linking one thinking pattern to another </li></ul><ul><ul><li>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!” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Simple methods may involve using a noun for a simple item that can be seen or touched </li></ul><ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>More advanced methods might involve the use of concepts that are randomly applied to your problem (Creative Whack Packs from Roger von Oech) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>For example, apply a random statement from a Whack Pack like “How is your ego adversely affecting your judgment?” </li></ul></ul>Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09 Source: James Manktelow, Roger von Oech
  25. Provocation <ul><li>Making a deliberately provocative statement to spur a discussion </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ What if we made a cell phone that didn’t have a keypad?” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ What if we decided to sell a $5.00 cup of coffee?” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>We then use that provocation to suspend judgment and generate ideas, we can: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Explore the consequences of the statement </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Explore the benefits </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What special circumstances would make it a sensible solution </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The principles needed to support it and make it work </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How it would work </li></ul></ul>Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09 Source: James Manktelow, Edward de Bono
  26. What next? <ul><li>Look for future sessions that help teams: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Analyze ideas </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Synthesize options </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Visualize concepts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Communicate ideas </li></ul></ul>Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09
  27. Resources <ul><li>Web </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mind Tools , James Manktelow </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Leading a Brainstorm , Scott Berkun </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Books </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Lateral Thinking , Edward De Bono </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A Whack on the Side of the Head , Roger von Oech </li></ul></ul>Brainstorming Concepts 06/01/09
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Brainstorming. A great overview of techniques and how to run your very own brainstorming workshop.


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