Improving Processes & Services

Process Tools

Data Handling

Brainstorming

One of the easiest, enjoyable, and most efficient ways of generating a list of ideas is to brainstorm. A successful brainstorm stimulates people to remove their inhibitions and to be as creative as possible without restricting their ideas in any way.

In particular, it enables a group of people who are not by nature creative, to become so. It generates excitement and interest, enhances involvement, and in a very short space of time (say, half an hour) generates a lot of ideas (say, 30 to 50), many of them quite original. For a Quality Action Team, it enables everybody to contribute their own ideas and helps the team to get moving.

The general sequence of events

Step 1. Form a group of 5 to 10 people and elect one person to be the Scribe

Step 2. Select and review the topic to be brainstormed and write it on the board. Often done best as “Why”, “How”, or “What” question.

Step 3. Give everyone a minute or two to think about the question.

Step 4. For one round, go round the group with each person suggesting an idea. Write it on the Flip Chart. Then Open-It-Up with members just throwing out ideas as they occur to them.

Rules
  • Freewheel - any ideas, even silly ones.
  • Go for Quantity - we can select out later
  • Cross Fertilise - hitch-hike on other ideas
  • No Evaluation - not even a groan or a grimace.
  • Write up all ideas on Flip Chart - use a Short Clear Description (3 or 4 words) so whole group can easily scan them

 

Feel free to modify this procedure to suit the group. Some groups like to spend 5 minutes writing ideas down. Some like to do that on Post-its.

Also use it together with voting. If each person ticks the five ideas that they feel are the best, the votes usually congregate with seven or eight ideas being clearly the most popular. This can be a good way of quickly reducing 30 to 50 items down to a manageable number.