The Wildfire Spread of Brainstorming
Since its birth in 1941, brainstorming has spread throughout the world. The technique is known to most educated managers; but, sadly, it is often applied ineffectually because of poor training and lack of access to quality training material. Nevertheless, it is used by nearly all of the world’s largest companies and across a wide range of departments. Charities, government organizations and commercial companies all shout its praises.
Using the simple rules developed over 60 years ago, people are discovering new solutions to their problems and creating new opportunities to advance their companies and their own careers. It is one of the most exciting things ever to be the inventor of a world-changing product and to become the creator of the world you want to live in. Brainstorming promises you this and more.
Every single day there is a brainstorming session being conducted somewhere in the world. New ideas are flooding out of these sessions and society is changing because of it. Join in with the progress and make your ideas heard.
Rules of Brainstorming
Rule 1: Postpone and withhold your judgment of ideas.
Do not pass judgment on ideas until the completion of the brainstorming session. Do not suggest that an idea won’t work or that it has negative side effects. All ideas are potentially good, so don’t judge them until afterwards. At this stage, avoid discussing the ideas at all, as this will inevitably involve either criticizing or complimenting them.
Rule 2: Encourage wild and exaggerated ideas.
It is much easier to tame a wild idea than it is to think of an immediately valid one in the first place. During brainstorming, then, the “wilder” the idea, the better. Shout out bizarre and unworkable ideas to see what they spark off. No idea is too ridiculous. State any outlandish ideas. Exaggerate ideas to the extreme.
Use creative thinking techniques and tools to start your thinking from a fresh direction.
Rule 3: Quantity counts at this stage, not quality.
Go for quantity of ideas at this point; narrow down the list later. All activities should be geared toward extracting as many ideas as possible in a given period.
The more creative ideas a person or a group has to choose from, the better. If the number of ideas at the end of the session is very large, there is a greater chance of finding a really good idea.
Keep each idea short, do not describe it in detail—just capture its essence. Brief clarifications can be requested. Think fast, reflect later.
Rule 4: Build on the ideas put forward by others.
Build and expand on the ideas of others. Try and add extra thoughts to each idea. Use other people’s ideas as inspiration for your own. Creative people are also good listeners. Combine several of the suggested ideas to explore new possibilities.
It’s just as valuable to be able to adapt and improve other people’s ideas as it is to generate the initial idea that sets off new trains of thought.
Rule 5: Every person and every idea has equal worth.
Every person has a valid viewpoint and a unique perspective on the situation and solution. In a brainstorming session you can always put forward ideas purely to spark off other people and not just as a final solution. Encourage everyone to participate, even if they feel they need to write their ideas on a piece of paper and pass them around. Encourage participation from everyone.
You will know that you have created a healthy brainstorming environment if everyone feels confident to contribute.