Brainstorming is a group technique used to generate aimed at problem solving.
It is perhaps the best-known creativity technique, invented in 1939 by Alex Osborn, founder of BBDO, an advertising agency which was born in the late 1920’s.
Love it or hate it, this tool has stood the test of time and has been used for years across practically all fields.
When properly applied, it remains a fundamental tool which allows more than any other for a high generation of ideas.
For brainstorming to be defined as such, and to produce its promised results, one must respect the rules of divergent thinking, a method on which the efficiency of the tool is founded.
RULES OF DIVERGENT THINKING
1. Defer judgement
Using judgement preventively “blocks” creative thinking. There are no such things as good options and bad options. Everything is taken into consideration in this phase. Only once judgement is deferred can a multitude of options be generated.
2. Seek quantity
The goal is to produce a very high number of ideas to choose from. It’s easy to stop after coming up with the first few options, especially if some of these ideas already seem useful. It is, however, essential to continue, since the first ideas which come to mind are usually the most obvious, the most familiar. We must go past the obvious and push onwards in the search for the greatest possible number of thoughts and ideas.
3. Seek novelty (crazy, unusual ideas)
During a brainstorming session it’s important to let the mind run free, playing with ideas in a way that lets even “crazy” or unusual ideas to find their space and present what they have to offer. It’s difficult to generate new opportunities from old thoughts, ideas, and notions. Boldness makes it possible to find new connections.
4. Combine ideas
Let yourself get inspired by what pops up: make connections with previously generated options to produce new ones. In our sessions it’s ok to “copy” as long as it helps produce new ideas. Consider all possible combinations and build upon others’ ideas.
Brainstorming must be carried out within a limited amount of time and it must depart from an already defined topic. Even the location where it takes place has its own importance: well-lit, peaceful, and comfortable, safe from external intrusions and interventions, with comfortable workspaces and equipped with every amenity.
We use a variation of the classic brainstorming session called post-it brainstorming. In this case, obviously, another ingredient which must be available in abundance are post-it notes, along with paper and thin markers or pens for writing.