IMPACT Leaflet No. 5a

Brainstorming

Number of people:     Most effective 5-15
Minimum time:           5-10 minutes
Materials:                   Flip chart, newsprint, felt-tip pens, tape

Purpose

Brainstorming is a method used to generate an idea list from a group in a short period of time. It is designed to encourage participation by all members. This method usually produces creative, new ideas useful in solving the problem or issue at hand.

Goal: Produce a quantity of ideas.

Process

  1. Choose recorder to write ideas generated on newsprint;
  2. Set time limit or maximum number of items before you begin;
  3. Present topic clearly. Write on newsprint so all members can see. Give available background information;
  4. Ask people to offer ideas as rapidly as they can. They may ask for clarification, if the idea is not understood by the group;

Rule: No idea can be judged, discussed or rejected.

  1. Make sure group members understand that ideas will be evaluated after brainstorming is finished;
  2. Write down on newsprint all ideas presented. Write word for word if possible;
  3. Move rapidly from one idea to another;
  4. To encourage group participation, take only one idea from each person. This is especially important if one or two people are dominating the idea sharing;
  5. Evaluate ideas, prioritize and return to brainstorming if more ideas are needed; and
  6. Proceed with the decision-making task.

Comments: Brainstorming with a group releases many ideas in a way that seems to spark other thoughts. The non-judgmental gathering of ideas breaks down barriers among people and avoids blocks such as "We've tried that before ... .. It didn't work," etc.