Brainstorming

24 Aug 2008 - 10:12pm
5 years ago
9 replies
4946 reads
Alfonso
2007

Hi everyone,

I’m putting together an article on ‘best practice’
brainstorming practical usage and trying to get some feedback through various
mailing lists. One of these lists is
IXDA, I already read most of the interesting posts on brainstorming, and got
some ideas but I would like to get some more feedback. Please, refer to old
posts because I might have missed some of them.

I’m referring to brainstorming in agencies and design
studios but not over the phone or solo brainstorming. Below are some questions
that would really help me get finished with the article. Everyone that answers
will be cited at the end and I’ll also provide a link to the website. Feel free
to answer as many questions as you like and give as much feedback as you like.

What is your personal definition of brainstorming?

When and in what kind of projects do you use it ? (generating
new products, new ideas, business)

Who should sit in the brainstorming session and why? is it
just for creative people or does including non-creatives (managers or admin)
help find the balance between creativity and practicality? Or do you include
everyone in the search of a balanced input?

Do you include third parties (client)? Why?

What would you say it’s the optimum balance in number of
people? 2,4,5,10? Why?

What information do you provide before and/or at the
beginning of the session (sketches of target audience, summaries of researches identifying attitudes and behavior,
other resources or nothing at all)?

How much time do you give to review the brief and prepare
for the brainstorming session?

What’s the best time of the day to hold a brainstorming
session?

Where do you conduct the brainstorming session (out-of-house
or in-house)?

Who the facilitator should be and what characteristics should
have? Do you bring someone from the outside? is it a manager? does it need to
be little known to the group? How many facilitators?

What is the role of the facilitator? Does it keep things
moving, capture notes, identify key ideas?

How long should the session be? Different lights for
different sessions?

Do brainstorming sessions need to be structured or do you
brainstorm in an informal place without planning? For example, on a Friday with
colleagues in a pub, or in a plane heading to conferences.

Do you just send out email and ask people to brainstorm? A kind
of e-mail brainstorm and possibly use these information in the actual
brainstorming session?

What tools do you use? Paper, whiteboard, software?

_________________________________________________________________
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Comments

25 Aug 2008 - 6:36pm
Alex ONeal
2008

I've provided creativity consultation and participated in or moderated quite
a few brainstorm sessions since 1992. Here's what I've discovered:

- Just as a good karaoke bar has a host, a moderator/facilitator helps
tremendously in brainstorming by making it okay to speak up, offering
questions that ideas might answer, and capturing ideas.
- Set the rules out early, and make it clear that nothing is censored.
Because you don't see how the idea will work with current
infrastructure/whatever, does not mean someone else won't think of a
workaround. Even if the idea is not used, it may provide a springboard for
another idea.
- Anyone can be present as long as they are not repressive of
creativity. You should avoid having "watchers" who are obvious observers.
If someone wants to come in and observe, fine, but they must also
participate in some way, or they might have a repressive effect on the team
members, which may feel as if they are being graded in some way.
- Capture items live, but *not* as a bullet list on a white board. My
favorite method is to work with a projector and have the
moderator/facilitator capture everything on the fly in Visio's brainstorming
template (or any application you find meets the need, Visio has simply been
most convenient, most frequently in the workplace for me). This allows you
to move items around, draw connections between disparate ideas, make notes
regarding different concepts, etc. You immediately get away from the
linear.

Tracking in Visio worked in a phone/web meeting context once, too, gluing
together departments in Toronto, Dallas, and Plano. Everyone could see and
hear what was happening, and we were used to that kind of meeting.
- Paper and whiteboard will work if they are large enough, and if you
start off not writing a bulleted list.
- If you already know what you're working with, a large table and a lot
of index cards can be invaluable. For example, to brainstorm a flexible
taxonomy that engineering, marketing, sales, and various product depts.
could all agree on for a personalized site, I printed several sets of
"business cards" that each had one of the possible values/attributes printed
on it (plus a few blank ones). Then I got the business owners and SMEs into
one room with a very big table. By the end of the afternoon we had the rough
outline of an excellent faceted taxonomy.
- I try to work with not more than a dozen, not less than five. Too few
and people get shy; too many and people think they won't be heard. But with
the right group of creative souls, these limits can be broken :-)
- Someone within the dept. is fine if they know what they're doing --
otherwise turn to an outside facilitator. Sometimes both a facilitator and
a scribe are useful - one person moderating, and another capturing data. All
depends on what your options are.
- I don't think brainstorming should be less than an hour or more than
three. A couple of hours is usually enough to explain the situation, get
things started. snowball ideas off of other ideas, and possibly
prioritize/determine next steps. All day can result in burnout - unless you
are working on a large project and chunk out the brainstorming sessions into
targeted areas.

Hope this is helpful!

Alex O'Neal
UX manager

--
The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The next best time is
now.

25 Aug 2008 - 7:33pm
Chauncey Wilson
2007

Hello Alfonso,

I would highly recommend that you get the following two books as part
of your research.

Osborn, A. F. (1963). Applied imagination: Principles and procedures
of creative problem-solving (Third Revised Edition). New York, NY:
Charles Scribner's Sons. This is considered a classic book on modern
brainstorming. Alex Osborn, who began his writings on brainstorming in
the 1940s, wanted a meeting process that would reduce the inhibitions
that block the generation of creative ideas. Many of the classic
rules for modern brainstorming originated with Osborn. This book is
out of print, but a worthwhile read if you can locate it. There are a
number of versions of this book, each incorporating new ideas from
Osborn. The 1963 version is the most-often cited. Used copies are
generally available and reprints can be found at
http://www.creativeeducationfoundation.org/press.shtml#imagination.

Paulus, P. B., & Nijstad, B. A. (Eds.), Group creativity: Innovation
through collaboration. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Paulus and
Nijstad have edited a book that captures a wide range of research into
group creativity. Much of the book deals with brainstorming and
related methods for generating ideas and solutions to problems. While
the book is loaded with research and theory, most chapters have a set
of practical implications for group creativity methods like
brainstorming and brainwriting. The book discusses both face-to-face
and electronic methods and their respective strengths and weaknesses.
The book highlights how social inhibitors can affect creative
productivity and provides some research-based tips on how to overcome
these inhibitors.

I've been doing talks on brainstorming and ideation techniques based
on research for a book that I'm working on. Brainstorming is often
touted as easy, but it is actually a very complex social psychological
process with many factors influening the number of ideas generated. I
did a talk titled, "A Portfolio of Brainstorming Techniques" at the
last UPA with my colleague from Mad*Pow, Amy Cueva, that was well
received. If you like, I could send you a copy. It list best
practices for planning and conducting brainstorming sessions and also
highlights the method called brainwriting which generall yields more
ideas than the class group brainstorming.

There are several important concepts in brainstorming that need to be
considered:

1. Production blocking - any behavior or influence that blocks ideas
by others. For example, I ask that no one bring a computer or iPhone,
or Blackberry to brainstorming meetings because glancing at one of
those devices means that you aren't focused on the task of generating
as many ideas as possibly. A major ground rule is that people do not
tell "war stories" since the time spent tell stories blocks the
production of ideas.
2. Evaluation apprehension - things that make people worry about
being evaluated - for example, managers should generally not be a part
of brainstorming groups because they may "rate" their employees on
their ideas will lead to evaluation apprehension and then production
blocking (fear will limit what people are open to express).
3. Social loafing - large groups allow some people to loaf through
the session while other take up the load. Some of the research on
brainstorming notes that smaller groups are more effective (2-5) and
having two people sit and brainstorming like crazy with each other
(dyadic brainstorming) is quite efficient.

Here is a list of common blunders from our UPA talk:

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 warming up

Here are some additional references that you might find useful:

Berkun, S. (2004, July). How to run a brainstorming meeting. Retrieved
June 1, 2008 from
http://www.scottberkun.com/essays/34-how-to-run-a-brainstorming-meeting/

Camacho, M. L., & Paulus, P. B. (1995). The role of social anxiousness
in group brainstorming. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
68(6), 1071-1080.

Kelley, T. (2001). The art of innovation: Lessons in creativity from
IDEO, America's leading design firm. New York, NY:
Doubleday.

Spreng, K. P. (2007, November). Enhancing creativity in brainstroming
for successful problem solving. HOT Topics, 6 (11), Retrieved on June
1, 2008 from http://hot.carleton.ca/hot-topics/articles/brainstorming

Chauncey

On Sun, Aug 24, 2008 at 11:12 PM, alfonso comitini
<alfonsocomitini at hotmail.com> wrote:
>
>
>
> Hi everyone,
>
> I'm putting together an article on 'best practice'
> brainstorming practical usage and trying to get some feedback through various
> mailing lists. One of these lists is
> IXDA, I already read most of the interesting posts on brainstorming, and got
> some ideas but I would like to get some more feedback. Please, refer to old
> posts because I might have missed some of them.
>
> I'm referring to brainstorming in agencies and design
> studios but not over the phone or solo brainstorming. Below are some questions
> that would really help me get finished with the article. Everyone that answers
> will be cited at the end and I'll also provide a link to the website. Feel free
> to answer as many questions as you like and give as much feedback as you like.
>
>
>
> What is your personal definition of brainstorming?
>
> When and in what kind of projects do you use it ? (generating
> new products, new ideas, business)
>
> Who should sit in the brainstorming session and why? is it
> just for creative people or does including non-creatives (managers or admin)
> help find the balance between creativity and practicality? Or do you include
> everyone in the search of a balanced input?
>
> Do you include third parties (client)? Why?
>
> What would you say it's the optimum balance in number of
> people? 2,4,5,10? Why?
>
> What information do you provide before and/or at the
> beginning of the session (sketches of target audience, summaries of researches identifying attitudes and behavior,
> other resources or nothing at all)?
>
> How much time do you give to review the brief and prepare
> for the brainstorming session?
>
> What's the best time of the day to hold a brainstorming
> session?
>
> Where do you conduct the brainstorming session (out-of-house
> or in-house)?
>
> Who the facilitator should be and what characteristics should
> have? Do you bring someone from the outside? is it a manager? does it need to
> be little known to the group? How many facilitators?
>
> What is the role of the facilitator? Does it keep things
> moving, capture notes, identify key ideas?
>
> How long should the session be? Different lights for
> different sessions?
>
> Do brainstorming sessions need to be structured or do you
> brainstorm in an informal place without planning? For example, on a Friday with
> colleagues in a pub, or in a plane heading to conferences.
>
> Do you just send out email and ask people to brainstorm? A kind
> of e-mail brainstorm and possibly use these information in the actual
> brainstorming session?
>
> What tools do you use? Paper, whiteboard, software?
>
>
>
>
> _________________________________________________________________
> Win a voice over part with Kung Fu Panda & Live Search and 100's of Kung Fu Panda prizes to win with Live Search
> http://clk.atdmt.com/UKM/go/107571439/direct/01/
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

27 Aug 2008 - 3:33pm
Gayle Curtis
2008

Hello Alfonso,
These are all great questions about brainstorming, and it would be
very valuable to have the collective wisdom of this and other lists
together in a single article.

I have been teaching brainstorming techniques and leading ideation
sessions over a number of years at Stanford and at Yahoo!, and I will
second Chauncey's citation of the Osborn text and add this earlier
one, where he introduces the term 'brainstorming' :

Your Creative Power,
http://www.amazon.com/Your-Creative-Power-Alex-Osborn/dp/1569460558
"...It was in 1939 when I first organized such group thinking in our
company. The early participants dubbed our efforts "Brainstorm
Sessions;" and quite aptly so, because in this case, "brainstorm"
means using the brain to storm a creative problem - and do so in
commando fashion, with each stormer attacking the same objective."

In this book he introduces the four basic principles of brainstorming
which I find are the essential foundation of fluent ideation:

* Defer judgement
* Push for quantity
* Encourage wild ideas
* Build on others' ideas.

Here are some other, more contemporary references:

David Kelley (IDEO) in Fast Company:
Seven Secrets to Good Brainstorming
http://www.fastcompany.com/articles/2001/03/kelley.html
Six Surefire Ways to Kill a Brainstorm
http://www.fastcompany.com/articles/2001/03/kelley2.html

Bob Sutton (Stanford GSB) in Business Week:
Eight Tips for Better Brainstorming
http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/content/jul2006/id20060726_517774.htm?chan=innovation_innovation+++design_innovation+and+design+lead

The Innovation Catalyst shows that the debate over the value of
brainstorming is not dead
http://opensourceinnovation.wordpress.com/2007/06/28/two-vastly-opposing-views-on-brainstorming-pt-i/#comment-32

And some (Ad agency) people don't like it at all. This article
illustrates how poorly run sessions can be really counter productive.
http://www.adliterate.com/archives/2007/05/death_to_the_br.html

I look forward to seeing more about this,

Gayle Curtis
UX Design Strategy - Yahoo!
gayle.curtis at mac.com

>
>
>Message: 6
>Date: Mon, 25 Aug 2008 03:12:19 +0000
>From: alfonso comitini <alfonsocomitini at hotmail.com>
>Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Brainstorming
>To: <discuss at ixda.org>
>Message-ID: <BLU116-W240C06187F1641DB4D9B0DAB670 at phx.gbl>
>Content-Type: text/plain; charset="Windows-1252"
>
>
>
>
>Hi everyone,
>
>I?m putting together an article on ?best practice?
>brainstorming practical usage and trying to get some feedback through various
>mailing lists. One of these lists is
>IXDA, I already read most of the interesting posts on brainstorming, and got
>some ideas but I would like to get some more feedback. Please, refer to old
>posts because I might have missed some of them.
>
>I?m referring to brainstorming in agencies and design
>studios but not over the phone or solo brainstorming. Below are some questions
>that would really help me get finished with the article. Everyone that answers
>will be cited at the end and I?ll also provide a link to the
>website. Feel free
>to answer as many questions as you like and give as much feedback as you like.
>
>What is your personal definition of brainstorming?
>
>When and in what kind of projects do you use it ? (generating
>new products, new ideas, business)
>
>Who should sit in the brainstorming session and why? is it
>just for creative people or does including non-creatives (managers or admin)
>help find the balance between creativity and practicality? Or do you include
>everyone in the search of a balanced input?
>
>Do you include third parties (client)? Why?
>
>What would you say it?s the optimum balance in number of
>people? 2,4,5,10? Why?
>
>What information do you provide before and/or at the
>beginning of the session (sketches of target audience, summaries of
>researches identifying attitudes and behavior,
>other resources or nothing at all)?
>
>How much time do you give to review the brief and prepare
>for the brainstorming session?
>
>What?s the best time of the day to hold a brainstorming
>session?
>
>Where do you conduct the brainstorming session (out-of-house
>or in-house)?
>
>Who the facilitator should be and what characteristics should
>have? Do you bring someone from the outside? is it a manager? does it need to
>be little known to the group? How many facilitators?
>
>What is the role of the facilitator? Does it keep things
>moving, capture notes, identify key ideas?
>
>How long should the session be? Different lights for
>different sessions?
>
>Do brainstorming sessions need to be structured or do you
>brainstorm in an informal place without planning? For example, on a
>Friday with
>colleagues in a pub, or in a plane heading to conferences.
>
>Do you just send out email and ask people to brainstorm? A kind
>of e-mail brainstorm and possibly use these information in the actual
>brainstorming session?
>
>What tools do you use? Paper, whiteboard, software?
>
>***************************************

27 Aug 2008 - 9:37pm
Chauncey Wilson
2007

This is a good discussion. While group brainstorming gets a lot of
attention, there are a number of related techniques for idea
generation that can work in different situations including:

Brainwriting
Buzz sessions
The Nominal group technique
Freelisting
The Lotus Blossom Technique
Braindrawing for visual ideas
Metaphor brainstorming
The Crawford Slip Method

Some of these methods are useful when:

1. You have a hostile group
2. You want to gather ideas when time is short
3. You want to gather ideas from a very large group (like a conference session)
4. There are cultural issues that affect strongly how people respond.
5. You want to rate the ideas without being influenced by status or
loud-talkers
6. You want to examine a specific set of problems and solutions in a
structured approach.

A topic that isn't always addressed sufficiently is what to do with
the data from brainstorming studies. There are a number of techniques
including affinity diagramming, a criteria matrix where you apply a
set of criteria to prioritize problems. Target diagrams where you
group items into categories of interest, and affinity diagrams where
you place the items into a 2 x 2 matrix of important dimensions (costs
versus customer benefit for example).

An interesting issue in the research literature is the appropriate
amount of diversity. Too much diversity can actually reduce the
quantity of ideas. For example, if you invite people in who most
people don't know, people might feel inhibited about expressing wild
ideas in front of the strangers.

Good discussion.

Chauncey

On Wed, Aug 27, 2008 at 4:33 PM, Gayle Curtis <gcurtis at gaylecurtis.com> wrote:
> Hello Alfonso,
> These are all great questions about brainstorming, and it would be very
> valuable to have the collective wisdom of this and other lists together in a
> single article.
>
> I have been teaching brainstorming techniques and leading ideation sessions
> over a number of years at Stanford and at Yahoo!, and I will second
> Chauncey's citation of the Osborn text and add this earlier one, where he
> introduces the term 'brainstorming' :
>
> Your Creative Power,
> http://www.amazon.com/Your-Creative-Power-Alex-Osborn/dp/1569460558
> "...It was in 1939 when I first organized such group thinking in our
> company. The early participants dubbed our efforts "Brainstorm Sessions;"
> and quite aptly so, because in this case, "brainstorm" means using the brain
> to storm a creative problem - and do so in commando fashion, with each
> stormer attacking the same objective."
>
> In this book he introduces the four basic principles of brainstorming which
> I find are the essential foundation of fluent ideation:
>
> * Defer judgement
> * Push for quantity
> * Encourage wild ideas
> * Build on others' ideas.
>
> Here are some other, more contemporary references:
>
> David Kelley (IDEO) in Fast Company:
> Seven Secrets to Good Brainstorming
> http://www.fastcompany.com/articles/2001/03/kelley.html
> Six Surefire Ways to Kill a Brainstorm
> http://www.fastcompany.com/articles/2001/03/kelley2.html
>
> Bob Sutton (Stanford GSB) in Business Week:
> Eight Tips for Better Brainstorming
> http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/content/jul2006/id20060726_517774.htm?chan=innovation_innovation+++design_innovation+and+design+lead
>
> The Innovation Catalyst shows that the debate over the value of
> brainstorming is not dead
> http://opensourceinnovation.wordpress.com/2007/06/28/two-vastly-opposing-views-on-brainstorming-pt-i/#comment-32
>
> And some (Ad agency) people don't like it at all. This article illustrates
> how poorly run sessions can be really counter productive.
> http://www.adliterate.com/archives/2007/05/death_to_the_br.html
>
>
> I look forward to seeing more about this,
>
> Gayle Curtis
> UX Design Strategy - Yahoo!
> gayle.curtis at mac.com
>
>>
>>
>> Message: 6
>> Date: Mon, 25 Aug 2008 03:12:19 +0000
>> From: alfonso comitini <alfonsocomitini at hotmail.com>
>> Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Brainstorming
>> To: <discuss at ixda.org>
>> Message-ID: <BLU116-W240C06187F1641DB4D9B0DAB670 at phx.gbl>
>> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="Windows-1252"
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> Hi everyone,
>>
>> I?m putting together an article on ?best practice?
>> brainstorming practical usage and trying to get some feedback through
>> various
>> mailing lists. One of these lists is
>> IXDA, I already read most of the interesting posts on brainstorming, and
>> got
>> some ideas but I would like to get some more feedback. Please, refer to
>> old
>> posts because I might have missed some of them.
>>
>> I?m referring to brainstorming in agencies and design
>> studios but not over the phone or solo brainstorming. Below are some
>> questions
>> that would really help me get finished with the article. Everyone that
>> answers
>> will be cited at the end and I?ll also provide a link to the website. Feel
>> free
>> to answer as many questions as you like and give as much feedback as you
>> like.
>>
>> What is your personal definition of brainstorming?
>> When and in what kind of projects do you use it ? (generating
>> new products, new ideas, business)
>>
>> Who should sit in the brainstorming session and why? is it
>> just for creative people or does including non-creatives (managers or
>> admin)
>> help find the balance between creativity and practicality? Or do you
>> include
>> everyone in the search of a balanced input?
>>
>> Do you include third parties (client)? Why?
>>
>> What would you say it?s the optimum balance in number of
>> people? 2,4,5,10? Why?
>>
>> What information do you provide before and/or at the
>> beginning of the session (sketches of target audience, summaries of
>> researches identifying attitudes and behavior,
>> other resources or nothing at all)?
>>
>> How much time do you give to review the brief and prepare
>> for the brainstorming session?
>>
>> What?s the best time of the day to hold a brainstorming
>> session?
>>
>> Where do you conduct the brainstorming session (out-of-house
>> or in-house)?
>>
>> Who the facilitator should be and what characteristics should
>> have? Do you bring someone from the outside? is it a manager? does it need
>> to
>> be little known to the group? How many facilitators?
>>
>> What is the role of the facilitator? Does it keep things
>> moving, capture notes, identify key ideas?
>>
>> How long should the session be? Different lights for
>> different sessions?
>>
>> Do brainstorming sessions need to be structured or do you
>> brainstorm in an informal place without planning? For example, on a Friday
>> with
>> colleagues in a pub, or in a plane heading to conferences.
>>
>> Do you just send out email and ask people to brainstorm? A kind
>> of e-mail brainstorm and possibly use these information in the actual
>> brainstorming session?
>>
>> What tools do you use? Paper, whiteboard, software?
>>
>> ***************************************
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

28 Aug 2008 - 1:26am
martinpolley
2007

Which of these techniques are suitable for *solo* ideation?

Cheers,
--
Martin Polley
Technical writer, interaction designer
+972 52 3864280
Twitter: martinpolley
<http://capcloud.com/>

On Thu, Aug 28, 2008 at 5:37 AM, Chauncey Wilson
<chauncey.wilson at gmail.com>wrote:

> This is a good discussion. While group brainstorming gets a lot of
> attention, there are a number of related techniques for idea
> generation that can work in different situations including:
>
> Brainwriting
> Buzz sessions
> The Nominal group technique
> Freelisting
> The Lotus Blossom Technique
> Braindrawing for visual ideas
> Metaphor brainstorming
> The Crawford Slip Method
>

28 Aug 2008 - 5:56am
Chauncey Wilson
2007

Hi Martin,

Individual brainwriting combined with "idea stimulation"methods is the
primary method for solo brainstorming. If you have another interested
colleague who could help, there is some research showing that dyadic
brainstorming (2 people who brainstorm following the rules for larger
groups) is very productive. Two energetic people can really take on
on ideas in the right environment - away from phones and in a nice
setting).

You can also combine various techniques like first doing individual
brainwriting, then doing a Google Search to add items, then
investigate competitive products for more ideas, then you could apply
metaphor brainstorming to add more to your list of ideas, and then go
into the various techniques for group brainstorming like thinking of
combinations, magnifying (considering ideas where something is larger,
faster, more colorful), and so on. Mind mapping and concept mapping
are quite useful for individual brainstorming.

Actually, "solo ideation" would be a great topic for a talk. Mostly
we talk about groups of various sizes, but solo ideation is often
critical, especially for consultants who may have to work alone. The
sketching that industrial designers is often solo braindrawing (visual
brainstorming).

Maybe this would be a good Lightning Round talk for the IxDA
conference. I think that it is quite relevant, but doesn't really get
much attention. A title might be "Solo Brainstorming: Ideation
Methods for the Individual".

Oh, perhaps role playing might help as well. What if you took on
various roles (81 year old man with macular degeneration versus 40
year old financial advisor) and look at a topic or problem from those
perspectives. There is a technique in the UCD literature called
perspective-based inspections where team members take on different
roles or perspectives or personas. I've done this a few times and ask
people to play roles like "consistency czar" and "efficiency expert"
and it was both fun and revealed some novel issues.

Thanks for the good question. I would curious to hear the ideas of
others about how to maximize the output of solo brainstorming.

Chauncey

On Thu, Aug 28, 2008 at 2:26 AM, Martin <martin.polley at gmail.com> wrote:
> Which of these techniques are suitable for solo ideation?
>
> Cheers,
> --
> Martin Polley
> Technical writer, interaction designer
> +972 52 3864280
> Twitter: martinpolley
> <http://capcloud.com/>
>
>
>
> On Thu, Aug 28, 2008 at 5:37 AM, Chauncey Wilson <chauncey.wilson at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>>
>> This is a good discussion. While group brainstorming gets a lot of
>> attention, there are a number of related techniques for idea
>> generation that can work in different situations including:
>>
>> Brainwriting
>> Buzz sessions
>> The Nominal group technique
>> Freelisting
>> The Lotus Blossom Technique
>> Braindrawing for visual ideas
>> Metaphor brainstorming
>> The Crawford Slip Method
>

29 Aug 2008 - 2:08am
martinpolley
2007

Hi Chauncey,

Thanks very much for the comprehensive reply. I'll get Googling and start
reading about these techniques.

Many thanks,

Martin

On Thu, Aug 28, 2008 at 1:56 PM, Chauncey Wilson
<chauncey.wilson at gmail.com>wrote:

> Hi Martin,
>
> Individual brainwriting combined with "idea stimulation"methods is the
> primary method for solo brainstorming. If you have another interested
> colleague who could help, there is some research showing that dyadic
> brainstorming (2 people who brainstorm following the rules for larger
> groups) is very productive. Two energetic people can really take on
> on ideas in the right environment - away from phones and in a nice
> setting).
>
> You can also combine various techniques like first doing individual
> brainwriting, then doing a Google Search to add items, then
> investigate competitive products for more ideas, then you could apply
> metaphor brainstorming to add more to your list of ideas, and then go
> into the various techniques for group brainstorming like thinking of
> combinations, magnifying (considering ideas where something is larger,
> faster, more colorful), and so on. Mind mapping and concept mapping
> are quite useful for individual brainstorming.
>
> Actually, "solo ideation" would be a great topic for a talk. Mostly
> we talk about groups of various sizes, but solo ideation is often
> critical, especially for consultants who may have to work alone. The
> sketching that industrial designers is often solo braindrawing (visual
> brainstorming).
>
> Maybe this would be a good Lightning Round talk for the IxDA
> conference. I think that it is quite relevant, but doesn't really get
> much attention. A title might be "Solo Brainstorming: Ideation
> Methods for the Individual".
>
> Oh, perhaps role playing might help as well. What if you took on
> various roles (81 year old man with macular degeneration versus 40
> year old financial advisor) and look at a topic or problem from those
> perspectives. There is a technique in the UCD literature called
> perspective-based inspections where team members take on different
> roles or perspectives or personas. I've done this a few times and ask
> people to play roles like "consistency czar" and "efficiency expert"
> and it was both fun and revealed some novel issues.
>
> Thanks for the good question. I would curious to hear the ideas of
> others about how to maximize the output of solo brainstorming.
>
> Chauncey
>
> On Thu, Aug 28, 2008 at 2:26 AM, Martin <martin.polley at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Which of these techniques are suitable for solo ideation?
> >
> > Cheers,
> > --
> > Martin Polley
> > Technical writer, interaction designer
> > +972 52 3864280
> > Twitter: martinpolley
> > <http://capcloud.com/>
> >
> >
> >
> > On Thu, Aug 28, 2008 at 5:37 AM, Chauncey Wilson <
> chauncey.wilson at gmail.com>
> > wrote:
> >>
> >> This is a good discussion. While group brainstorming gets a lot of
> >> attention, there are a number of related techniques for idea
> >> generation that can work in different situations including:
> >>
> >> Brainwriting
> >> Buzz sessions
> >> The Nominal group technique
> >> Freelisting
> >> The Lotus Blossom Technique
> >> Braindrawing for visual ideas
> >> Metaphor brainstorming
> >> The Crawford Slip Method
> >
>

--
Martin Polley
Technical writer, interaction designer
+972 52 3864280
Twitter: martinpolley
<http://capcloud.com/>

5 Sep 2008 - 7:41pm
Alfonso
2007

@Alexandra: thank you for your reply, interesting insight regarding
the %u2018watchers%u2019 as repressive figures for creativity. Also,
I have always seen moderators listing ideas and creating
%u2018categories%u2019 to classify these ideas. I guess this is
terribly wrong. I remember having a lecturer writing on two sides of
the whiteboard to make distinctions between types of ideas. I would
be more specific but I don%u2019t quite remember the topic.

@Chauncey: Thank you for the invaluable book and papers references
and for being so detailed on the edition. Also, invaluable insights
on the main concepts of brainstorming. Regarding the UPA talk, I
%u2018ll try to dig deeper on setting the ground rules (you set
rules? I guess you are referring to the no %u2018war stories%u2019
type of rule) and addressing violations. Also, the concept of
understanding the culture, I guess is fundamental. I%u2019ll read
the material and get back to you :)

@Gayle: Thank you for all the references, and for the encouragement.
The idea of understanding brainstorming comes from some usability
work I do. I thought, if to get something right I have to ask other
people, maybe to came up with new ideas I need a bit of fresh air for
my brainstorming sessions! So, I thought I might need an outsider to
brainstorm with me or different people in the room or some rules
%u2026and so on. I%u2019ll let you know what happens.

Very good discussion,

I%u2019ll also follow the new %u2018solo ideation%u2019 thread.

Thank You,
Alfonso

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=32298

11 Sep 2008 - 2:53pm
stauciuc
2006

Hi,
I'm looking forward to the article!
Until then, I needed a summary of this discussion and since I'm making one,
thought someone else might need it as well.
*
On brainstorming*:
- a moderator/facilitator who knows what they're doing helps tremendously in
brainstorming. Scribe could also be useful
- Set the rules out early, and make it clear that nothing is censored.
- Prevent any behavior that blocks ideas (i.e. using laptop or cool devices,
telling 'war-stories')
* Defer judgement
* Push for quantity
* Encourage wild ideas
- * Build on others' ideas.
- Anyone can be present as long as they are not repressive of
creativity. Avoid having "watchers" who are obvious observers.
- managers shouldn't participate, because employees may feel like being
rated based on the quality of their ideas
- Capture items live, but *not* as a bullet list on a white board (Visio's
brainstorming template, Paper and whiteboard, or other tools?)
- amount of diversity: too much diversity can actually inhibit
- 5 to 12 people recommended for a session
- 2 to 5 people according to another view
- 1 to 3 hours recommended

*Related methods*:
Brainwriting
Buzz sessions
The Nominal group technique
Freelisting
The Lotus Blossom Technique
Braindrawing for visual ideas
Metaphor brainstorming
The Crawford Slip Method

...these can work for:
*Challenges in idea generation*
1. You have a hostile group
2. You want to gather ideas when time is short
3. You want to gather ideas from a very large group (like a conference
session)
4. There are cultural issues that affect strongly how people respond.
5. You want to rate the ideas without being influenced by status or
loud-talkers
6. You want to examine a specific set of problems and solutions in a
structured approach.

*Recommended books, papers, talks, references*:
Osborn, A. F. (1963). Applied imagination: Principles and procedures of
creative problem-solving (Third Revised Edition).

Paulus, P. B., & Nijstad, B. A. (Eds.), Group creativity: Innovation through
collaboration. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press
Methods

"A Portfolio of Brainstorming Techniques" - talk: Chauncey Wilson, Amy Cueva
(ask Chauncey for a copy :) )
Berkun, S. (2004, July). How to run a brainstorming meeting. Retrieved
June 1, 2008 from
http://www.scottberkun.com/essays/34-how-to-run-a-brainstorming-meeting/

Camacho, M. L., & Paulus, P. B. (1995). The role of social anxiousness
in group brainstorming. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
68(6), 1071-1080.

Kelley, T. (2001). The art of innovation: Lessons in creativity from
IDEO, America's leading design firm. New York, NY:
Doubleday.

Spreng, K. P. (2007, November). Enhancing creativity in brainstroming
for successful problem solving. HOT Topics, 6 (11), Retrieved on June
1, 2008 from http://hot.carleton.ca/hot-topics/articles/brainstorming

Your Creative Power,
http://www.amazon.com/Your-Creative-Power-Alex-Osborn/dp/1569460558

David Kelley (IDEO) in Fast Company:
Seven Secrets to Good Brainstorming
http://www.fastcompany.com/articles/2001/03/kelley.html
Six Surefire Ways to Kill a Brainstorm
http://www.fastcompany.com/articles/2001/03/kelley2.html

Bob Sutton (Stanford GSB) in Business Week:
Eight Tips for Better Brainstorming
http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/content/jul2006/id20060726_517774.htm?chan=innovation_innovation+++design_innovation+and+design+lead

The Innovation Catalyst shows that the debate over the value of
brainstorming is not dead
http://opensourceinnovation.wordpress.com/2007/06/28/two-vastly-opposing-views-on-
brainstorming-pt-i/#comment-32

And some (Ad agency) people don't like it at all. This article illustrates
how poorly run sessions can be really counter productive.
http://www.adliterate.com/archives/2007/05/death_to_the_br.html

Credits to all the contributors!

Sebi

--
Sergiu Sebastian Tauciuc
http://www.sergiutauciuc.ro/en/

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