What is brainstorming? According to Wikipedia, Brainstorming is a group creativity technique by which efforts are made to find a conclusion for a specific problem by gathering a list of ideas spontaneously contributed by its members.

Brainstorming combines a relaxed, informal approach to problem solving with lateral thinking. It encourages people to come up with thoughts and ideas that can, at first, seem a bit crazy. These ideas can be crafted into solutions to a major problem.

There are six types of brainstorming

  1. Speedstorming: This style of brainstorming is good for depth. It is ideal for small groups who have limited barnstormers and a short amount of time.
  2. Brain writing: This style aims for breadth. It is ideal for small groups who need a large quantity of ideas in a short time
  3. Reverse Brainstorming: It is ideal for people who find it difficult to create ideas or identify solutions to a problem.
  4. Content Brainstorming: For facilitators and participants who thrive on structure.
  5. Focus Group: This is for people targeting specific demographics
  6. Team brainstorming: This is for large groups with competitive spirits.

Brainstorming works best when all ideas are welcome. It is the responsibility of the team lead to ensure that no ideas are brushed aside. All the ideas mentioned should be written down. There should also be no side remarks when these ideas are made.  

The team lead should also encourage people to write down their ideas if it cannot be spoken out to the rest of the team.

The environment should also be conducive such that it would encourage members of the team to share their ideas and speak up. The environment should not be tense. Team bonding games can be introduced before the brainstorming session. This would help reduce the tension amongst team members.

Team Leads must also ensure they are neutral during brainstorming sessions. He/she can guide the discussions in the respective teams, but he/she must ensure that he stays neutral.

The team lead is also to present the issue at hand in a way that does not seem to be biassed. He is to present the issue in a way that does not suggest that he has either decided or picked a side.

During brainstorming sessions, team members should be encouraged to drop all preferences and biases and focus on the task at hand. They should be encouraged to always stay objective.

Brainstorming sessions should encourage the use of devil’s advocate technique.  The team can be split into those that would be the advocate for a particular idea while the other team can be against  the idea.  Each team would come up with supporting evidence of why their idea is superior.  Once this is done, the team lead can review both ideas and draw a conclusion.

Probing questions should be asked during brainstorming sessions: The use of the Six brothers model should be  encouraged i.e. Why? When? Where? What ? Who? And How

What are the advantages of brainstorming?

  1. It provides multiple perspectives on the problem at hand
  2. Creates oneness among team members
  3. It generates multiple ideas within a short time span
  4. It is easy to understand

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