How to Brainstorming Effectively

Posted by on Jun 12, 2011 in Continuous Improvement, Lean Six Sigma | 0 comments

Brainstorming is a technique used to generate a large number of ideas in a short period of time.  There are many versions of brainstorming and a number of different tools incorporate brainstorming in their use.  One common misuse of brainstorming is to identify and implement solutions to problems without first determining the root cause.  This results in shot-gunning and hoping that something works (poke and hope!)
The brainstorming steps are the following:
  • Define the topic for which you need to generate ideas.
  • Ask each person to come up with as many ideas as possible.
  • Give them a few minutes to write down their ideas.
  • Ask for their ideas and list them on a white board or flip chart, without comment.
  • Review, clarify, and combine ideas when all the ideas are exhausted.
  • If possible, revisit and revise the list at the next meeting.

One of the barriers people have to the use of brainstorming is negative reactions to their ideas.  The most common negative reactions are:
  • The idea is impractical.
  • The idea is too expensive.
  • The idea is illegal.
  • The idea is immoral.
  • The idea is inefficient.
  • The idea is unworkable.
  • The idea will be disruptive of existing procedures.
  • The idea is unaesthetic, i.e., ugly, or lacking in taste.
  • The idea is too radical.
  • The idea will be unappealing to others, i.e., my boss or management.
  • The idea is unfair, i.e., favors one side more than another.

One useful version of brainstorming is to think of as many possible objections to your solution as you can using the above list, then modify your idea so that you eliminate the objections.  You can also identify invalid objections others may raise because of their misunderstanding and confusion of the issue.

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