|The brainstorming cups. There has been a lot of research done on the efficacy of brainstorming and how it needs to be conducted in the recent years. I think it is one of the fundamental social aspects of information, both inside and outside workplaces and in the coffee shops of the world. It is ingrained in our popular culture. I drew the above sketch using Artflow. It is available on Android.|
The conference room was buzzing with activity. It was the monthly idea generation meeting for gathering ideas and identifying the promising ones for the company wide cost reduction program. The program was gathering steam and the pressure was looming with approaching deadlines. Everyone is expected to contribute. Importantly, the idea generation and the subsequent project delivery activities are bundled into their performance objectives.
This is a typical scenario in many of the offices of the large global corporate companies and even smaller companies. Some of us can relate to this scenario. A colleague at some point, a fellow operations manager retorted ‘How do we expect us to be so creative in generating promising ideas with tight deadlines, my team is spent’
Many of us would contend with this typical scene and would have participated or facilitated it as leaders. Readers, we are talking about a ubiquitous process called ‘brainstorming’. A process that gets unfolded day in and day out in countless conference rooms, meeting halls, workshops and sometimes even virtually across the globe with a diverse group of people across different cultures participating in it.
I think the conference rooms around the world would die, lack lustre without them.
Brainstorming, as a social exchange of information is an age-old process. The mutual sharing of discoveries, knowledge and making connections is a prerequisite for our evolution.
This social exchange of information and a spontaneous contribution of ideas whether creative or not had existed even in historical times between the King and his council of ministers and in other places of congregation. In modern times, just like other social science terms it has taken the garb of ‘brainstorming’, a term used in modern workplaces. Thanks to Alex Faickney Osborn who first coined the word in 1953 along with a set of practices and principles.
We find vivid pictures of brainstorming in all forms in our popular culture. From the talk sessions that happen in the grand dining hall with floating candles in the Harry Potter series, to the ‘anything can happen over coffee’ coffee shops and tea shops around the world, we as people, whether strangers or not, unconsciously indulge in brainstorming. We are hard-wired to do it and it is ingrained in our popular culture.
It is not chaos nor it is madness but there is a method and rhythm to it. We will discuss it. There is an occasional ‘brilliance’ and other times it turns out to be a damp squib.
Nonetheless, we all embrace it affectionately as brainstorming. Literally, brainstorming does not mean to ‘storm the brain’. It is far from it. It seeks a certain harmony and rhythm. On the contrary, when you rest your brain, you perform better.
Being one of the most important ‘Social aspects of information’, there are criticisms as well as improvisations.
Most of the criticisms on brainstorming stems from the idea of looking at it as a standalone idea factory for churning out ideas on demand. Brainstorming is a holistic activity intended to deliver path-breaking results over a sustained period. It is high time that we looked at the process and not the problem.
There has been a lot of research done around the world on brainstorming since it was first popularized in 1953.
Researchers have done many experiments and written research papers and books on the efficacy of brainstorming. Some have prescribed better techniques and solutions. I have tried my best to include most of them in this guide.
I have also included some best practices from world-class companies as well as my own experiences of brainstorming on the job.
In this guide, we will explore and look at the following,
|What is Brain storming?|
|The building blocks or good habits|
|Techniques and approaches – Keep it simple|
|Steps and checklist|
|An example technique for introverts and extroverts alike|
|Evaluation, selection and closure|
You can return to the main content areas by clicking on the link at the end of each section.
Note: I have cited and referenced the content through inline links placed at appropriate places through out the content. In my opinion, it is one of the fundamental essence of the WWW.