I want to introduce here a technique of brainstorming which is much more effective than the conventional brainstorming that most of us are familiar with.
In conventional brainstorming the following basic steps are well established.
1) Set out the topic to brainstorm (To find a solution to the frequent breakdown of ABC Machine)
2) Remind team members of the basic rules (one by one, ‘pass’, speed, time allowed (usually <10 minutes)
3) Start the contribution of ideas from the team (Leader/recorder to jot down ideas)
4) Grade the ideas (Grade A, B, C, and D) together
5) Pick out the Grade A ideas to develop further, discard the grade D ideas. When time permits, move onto Grade B and Grade C ideas.
Idea Writing is a more liberal, and less likely ideas will be lost.
1) Set everyone in a circle around a ’2 x 2 feet’ empty space
2) The leader writes the subject on a white-board for all to see.
3) Allow clarification before starting, then all members are given an A4 piece of white paper.
4) Each member copies the title on the top of the page.
The next steps can be divided into three phases (A) Compilation (B) Consolidation (C) Refinement
(i) Each member enters one idea on the top of his paper and return it to the empty centre space
(ii) He then exchange a random with another member’s returned paper
(iii) Continue to enter ideas and exchange until he is exhausted. He is allowed to read others’ ideas and build on them
(iv) Leader stops the exercise after 10 to 15 minutes
(i) At random, each member will pick one paper.
(ii) The member to the right of the leader will start reading the idea, one at a time. At the same time, all the other members check the ideas on their own list to see if there are duplicates. Duplicated ideas are eliminated. This is how ideas are eliminated – if the member suspects that there is a duplicated idea on his list, the member reads out and check with the originator. If the originator agrees it is the same idea, then the idea is cancelled. The originator can object and assert that it is not a duplication and offer a clarification on how his idea differs. When the list is completed, the next member will start reading his list.
(i) Once the discussion is completed, the leader will collect all the papers and consolidate the ideas which are not cancelled. These are unique ideas. The team can choose to discuss, expand, combine, or even create new ideas from here.
(ii) A list of good ideas will emerge.
You will notice that by this phase, everyone is talking and expressing their ideas freely…a sharp contrast to the serious Traditional Brainstorming.