Intro to Brainstorming

Over the past week I have been learning the practice of brainstorming; properly. Our introduction to the brilliant technique involved my seminar group (six of my classmates), two different methods and two topics.

Method One

  • Get a big bit of paper and a pen
  • Choose someone to stay quite and write down everything (literally, EVERYTHING, NO MATTER HOW SILLY – everyones ideas get included)
  • Scribble your topic in the centre; “How can we improve the Cantena”
  • Put on a timer for about 3-5 minutes
  • Everyone else in the group then shouts out whatever comes into their head regarding the Cantena!
  • Have a more in-depth discussion for about twenty minutes on the points that came up

As you can see we came up with some silly but some equally valid points that would matter to both the staff and the customers. We came up with triple the amount of point’s I would have on my own. This is due to the fact that we fed off each other’s suggestions and we all had different experiences of the place. For example, I don’t think I have ever been to the Cantena much past 2pm so I would never have known that the coffee machines close earlier than they should!

Method Two

  • Give everyone their own individual pile of post-it notes < a designer’s best friend so I am told!
  • Put on a timer for about 2 minutes
  • Everyone has to scribble down their thoughts on: “How can we improve museums”
  • Do a “card sort” out of all your post-it notes where you group together similar ideas
  • Discussion on the points that came up

From the image you can see we were able to group our idea’s into roughly six succinct categories, with only a couple of stragglers. This exercise was good because it showed how a lot of our idea’s were so similar.

Method one is good because it allows stupid ideas which come into your head to be included. Some of the silly things we were shouting out might not have gotten included had the person had time to process it and write it down. It is also good because the group acts as a stimulus, encouraging your line of thought to expand in different directions.

Method two would be a better option for a larger group or one with quieter individuals who might not like shouting out. It allows everyone to be included and the process of ‘card sorting’ often lets people see they are not alone in their opinion. It also visualizes the amount of thought, i.e just how many people have that opinion.

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