Brainstorming is the rapid pooling of all and any ideas that a group of people can come up with before any discussion or judgement takes place. Every idea is recorded no matter how bizarre or irrational.

How to Brainstorm

1. Keep a relaxed atmosphere.

Meetings should be disciplined but informal. If possible, choose an informal venue.

2. Get the right size of team. The technique seems to work best with groups of 5 to 7 people.

3. Choose a leader. The leader checks that everyone understands what is going on and why.

4. Define the problem clearly.

5. Generate as many ideas as possible.

6. Do not allow any evaluation and discussion.

7. Give everyone equal opportunity to contribute.

8. Write down EVERY idea - clearly and where everyone can see them.

9. When all the ideas are listed, review them for clarification, making sure everyone understands each item. At this point you can eliminate duplications and remove ideas the group feels are no longer appropriate.

10. Allow for ideas to incubate. Brainstorm in sessions with perhaps a few days in between. This gives time for the team to let the ideas turn over in their mind, which often results in new ideas at a later session.

Approaches to Brainstorming

1. One-at-a-time - a member of the group offers one idea and the session continues this way until everyone has had a chance to add to the list.

2. Open Door or Freewheeling - anyone who has a contribution speaks whenever he or she wants.

3. Write-it down - ideas are written down rather than stated out loud, but everyone must be able to see each idea listed. This is used when confidentiality is an issue, or when ideas about several subjects are to be brainstormed at the same time.

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