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November 13, 2011

Developing the Creative Craft XVI

Brainstorming

The term Brainstorming has become a commonly used word in the English language as a generic term for creative thinking. The basis of brainstorming is a generating ideas in a group situation based on the principle of suspending judgment - a principle which scientific research has proved to be highly productive in individual effort as well as group effort. The generation phase is separate from the judgment phase of thinking.

In Michael Morgan's book Creative Workforce Innovation he gives the following guidelines:

Brainstorming is a process that works best with a group of people when you follow the following four rules.

  1. Have a well-defined and clearly stated problem
  2. Have someone assigned to write down all the ideas as they occur 
  3. Have the right number of people in the group 
  4. Have someone in charge to help enforce the following guidelines:

            - Suspend judgment
            - Every idea is accepted and recorded
            - Encourage people to build on the ideas of others
            - Encourage way-out and odd ideas

In Serious Creativity, Edward de Bono describes brainstorming as a traditional approach to do deliberate creative thinking with the consequence that people think creative thinking can only be done in groups. The whole idea of brainstorming is that other people's remarks would act to stimulate your own ideas in a sort of chain reaction of ideas.

Groups are not at all necessary for deliberate creative thinking, and Serious Creativity describes techniques for individuals to use to produce ideas. In a group you have to listen to others and you may spend time repeating your own ideas so they get sufficient attention. Thinking as a group using brainstorming can certainly produce ideas, but individual thinking using techniques such as those described by de Bono should be employed.

de Bono believes that individuals are much better at generating ideas and fresh directions. Once the idea has been born then a group may be better able to develop the idea and take it in more directions than can the originator.


 

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Comments

I would have to agree with de Bono - I think as individuals we are better at generating ideas. Group situations can provide too many opportunities to get sidetracked, and people don't always feel comfortable sharing ideas if they believe that others may think the ideas "stupid" - even though in brainstorming, one "stupid" idea can lead to some really brilliant ones.

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