Brainstorming is a method of thinking creatively: - Always better way to do things - Always new ideas - Always new methods - Always new material - Always new combinations of old ideas - Always new resources to utilize Brainstorming IS a TEAM effort! Ideally, about a dozen people divergent as possible, are used to produce a great QUANTITY of spontaneous ideas. In the brainstorming group a team effort is wanted rather than stellar performers. "STARS" tend to inhibit others - and themselves!
To enhance spontaneity, and relax atmosphere that encourages a free flow of ideas is necessary. There are four simple rules to follow in creating the brainstorming atmosphere:
1. CRITICISM IS FORBIDDEN! No judgments allowed of anyone's comments during the actual session or storm.
2. IMAGINATIVE FREE - WHEELING IS DESIRED! The wilder the better.
3. QUANTITY IS THE FOCUS! The more ideas, the more likelihood of some good ones. There will be better ideas popping up when QUALITY is non-threatening.
4. PIGGYBACKING AND COMBINATIONS AND IMPROVEMENTS ARE DESIRED!
Other people's ideas spark variations in our own minds. It is designed to improve on others ideas, to make combinations of two or more previous ideas.
Choose the scope of the problem
Establish the scope of the problem through discussion so that everyone understands it. There are different "scopes". Brainstorming works best when it is directly oriented to action. This is reflected by pointed questions. (i.e. what kind of noontime programs do we want?)
Establish the conditions
Discuss clearly the objectives and goals of the question to be brainstormed. Narrow down the problem by defining important questions. For example, if you only have $100.00 to spend rather than $1000.00 that is an important condition! If you want a program for the goal of establishing unity and cohesion in the community, that is also an important condition. So start by making clear what function you want your program to serve, and for whom, etc. At the same time that you establish conditions, make sure that they are not unnecessarily limiting. Challenge each condition being presented for its possible limiting potential.
There are certain self-defeating statements that have undermined brainstorming sessions. Whenever any member of the storm session uses any defeating-type statement, all members are to respond immediately by saying something like "Out of order!" Typical phrases are: "That wouldn't work..." "They wouldn't like that idea!" "That's too much!" Self-killer phrases include: "This may sound silly, but..." "This may not work, but..." "I can't really think of anything good, but..."
Begin by setting a time limit. Do not quit before or after the time limit - unless the ideas are popping like crazy. Have someone write the ideas down. Or, have everyone write their ideas down. If there is a lull, have the recorder read every few items on the list to get things started again. Encourage spontaneity. Everyone is a cheerleader. Let ideas come to fruition. Or, go trigger someone else to produce the greatest idea ever.
After the Storm
Go over the list of ideas. Together, pull out the best of the ideas. This can be done by consensus.
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