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A Brainstorm Session: How to Brain Storm and Harvest 'Bolts From The Blue'!

Origin: During the late 1930's and early 1940's, advertising director Alex Osborn developed a technique for generating new product slogans and ad campaign ideas amongst his employees. He would meet with his group around a table, outline the problem and then have them generate ideas willy-nilly. Out of the scores of ideas generated, a few would turn out to be real gems. This idea-generating activity evolved and became known as "brainstorming" and it is still being used by top companies and creative individuals all around the world.

Uses: You can use it to generate super ideas for writing, business or any other activity that you are involved in, either through traditional group brainstorming sessions or through solo 'wildcatting' brain storm sessions. Brainstorming is a technique that allows you to generate a large quantity of ideas in a short period of time. It aims to bypass the logical 'censor' mind and access the more creative parts of your brain.

Group Brainstorming Technique: the session involves a group of 6 to 12 people who are briefed priot to the session on what they will be covering. (Participants are encouraged to generate their own written ideas prior to the session to bring to the meeting.) One of the participants will act as the facilitator to organise and control the session. Someone else will act as a scribe or secretary to takes detailed note of ideas generated. The group should be arranged in a non-threatening seating layout with all participants facing each other, with the scribe and facilitator at one side with flip charts behind them to write down the ideas that are generated. The facilitator steers the session where neccessary to keep it focussed on profitable topics. The facilitator also encourages everyone to participate, and ensures that no ideas are reacted to negatively. The whole point is to go for QUANTITY of ideas rather than QUALITY. If you focus on quantity, the quality will come.

Tips for brain storm success:

  • Defer judgement - you are going to hear a lot of what you could call silly, ill-formed ideas, but all participants must agree that for the duration of the session they will not judge any idea that is thrown into the pot (see Human Craptivator article). Unfortunately it is almost impossible to stop the brain from judging, so...
  • Go for speed - the faster the group works, the less chance for the internal editor (often known as the Squelcher for its ability to squelch or squash ideas before they are properly explored) to get in the way.

Click the following link for 12 detailed group session brainstorm rules.

Solo brain storm instructions: coming soon!

See also the Brainstorm techniques and tips blog And: New ways to use Brainstorming


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