Brainstorming was created by Alex Osborn of the advertising firm Batten, Barton, Durstine, and Osborn to increase the quantity and quality of advertising ideas. The process became known as brainstorming because the participants’ brains were used to “storm” a problem. Some people want to discount brainstorming because it is a simple process. Brainstorming is not to be discounted!
Brainstorming is Effective
Brainstorming is one of the most effective and most widely used group processes for generating ideas. While the process of brainstorming is simple, it is also highly effective. It works particularly well for identifying ideas for marketing, product issues, strategies, planning, policy, organization, leadership, staffing, motivation, and communications. However, Brainstorming does not work particularly well with complex questions.
Basic Structure for Effective Brainstorming Sessions
The following steps provide a basic structure for effective brainstorming sessions:
1. Select a group of six to twelve people.
2. Choose a leader.
3. Choose a recorder (or two).
4. Spend no more than 30 minutes on idea generation.
5. Take a break.
6. Return and critique ideas.
The four rules for interactive brainstorming to be effective are as follows:
1. No judgments are placed on ideas.
2. All ideas are welcomed.
3. The goal is quantity of ideas.
4. Record all suggestions.
Brainstorming works well if each idea is recorded on a sticky note so that the ideas can later be moved, combined, refined, and/or connected.
By Shirley J. Caruso, M.A., Human Resource Development