Brain-storming is one of the most effective and widely used problem-solving techniques. It comes in handy where the situation demands working in groups to arrive at a solution.
It was made famous by Alex Osborn in the year 1953 in his book Applied Imagination. Under a typical brainstorming scenario, people come together to generate new ideas and solutions around a specific problem. The objective is to let people think freely and come out with as many spontaneous ideas as possible.
Osborn strongly believed that two basic principles governed the efficacy of a problem-solving technique:
1. Reaching for Quantity
2. Deferring Judgement
These two principles form the basis of four general rules which must be followed for the application of this technique:
1. Go for Quantity: This requires all the group members to generate as many ideas as possible. The underlying thought process is that creating more ideas means a greater probability of arriving at a radical and effective solution for problem-solving. Accordingly, members are encouraged to think of all possible solutions without any restrictions in the first step.
2. Hold Criticism: The second rule restricts group members not to resort to criticism midway. This is an important rule, owing to the natural human tendency to start looking at what’s not good at an idea at the first opportunity. In the idea generation stage participants should focus on extending or adding to ideas. Criticism must be reserved for a later stage of the process. By suspending judgment, participants feel free to generate unusual ideas.
3. Welcome Wild Ideas: Wild ideas are encouraged to get a strong long list of suggestions. They can be generated by looking from new perspectives without assumptions. New perspectives and new ways of thinking sometimes deliver out of the box solutions.
4. Combine and improve ideas: Once all the opinions are in place, the fourth rule requires merging the idea elements to create compound solutions. The objective is to arrive at a scenario where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts or in simple words 1+1=3 or more. The belief is idea stimulation by the power of association.
Application of the Method
One of the pre-condition of using this method is to address a specific question at a time. Trying to answer multiple questions or solve more than one problem leaves it ineffective.
A typical example of the application of this technique can be in the consumer goods company. Consider the organization is launching a new product, and the product name needs to be finalized. It would be good to get all the stakeholders together, brainstorm the various titles, and then finalize by combining multiple ideas.
In the actual scenario, this method is used frequently but not always structured as it’s meant to be. You may find several examples of brainstorming in your organization. These sessions are usually lively because each member wants to contribute to the discussion. But this could also be one of the reasons why some members don’t get a chance to share their ideas.
In the subsequent posts, I will be sharing various sub-types of brainstorming.
Have you known this technique earlier? How has been your experience?
If it’s something new, you can try it and see the efficacy.
Either way, do share the feedback in the comments section.
Lalit Hundalani||Peak Performance & Life Transformation Coach|| Best-Selling Author of 2 Books||Mentor
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