Leader Volume 8, Number 10
Brainstorming (or Advanced Brainstorming)
Clayton is owner of Infinite Innovations Ltd., UK (phone 0114
2967546, email email@example.com),
helping companies improve themselves through creativity software,
training and consulting. A website dedicated to brainstorming is www.brainstorming.co.uk
and it welcomes your contributions.
all well and good until you come to the point where you can't
think of new ideas. It promises so much yet often doesn’t meet
expectations. Do your brainstorming sessions come up with the same
ideas again and again?
It’s now time
to start using advanced brainstorming techniques.
Computer-enhanced brainstorming is an ideal way to come up with
One of the
problems with standard brainstorming is that most of the people
start off thinking in the same way. In most cases, people who work
in the same department have similar experiences and backgrounds.
They often have the same ideas about potential solutions
because they have worked together for a long time. It’s very
hard to escape from their current mindset. Standard brainstorming
techniques are also inhibited by groups of people who have built
up their social structure over a long time.
They are now in need of advanced brainstorming techniques
to break people out of their normal thinking patterns. For an
unlimited number of new prompts, all they need is one ordinary
So what is an
advanced brainstorming technique? Well, if standard brainstorming
is the process of losing inhibitions in order to follow abnormal
trains of thought to a useful conclusion, then advanced
brainstorming makes this loss of inhibition easier. It also
creates totally original starting points. And when these trains of
thought are followed, there’s an increased likelihood of new
techniques involve presenting yourself with a new stimulus which
you then use to spark off a new solution. You take the stimulus,
extract the principles and concepts behind it, and reapply these
principles to see what happens. By cross breeding two different
objects or actions you will create thought patterns and ideas that
have never existed before. To come up with a radically new, yet
practical, solution you need to start from a concept outside of
your current environment. To think out of “the box” you must
first realize that you are in an enclosed box of thought and that
the box can only be opened from the outside. You need to seek
external stimuli to break out of your current mindset. If you need
instant access to external stimuli then a computer is the ideal
A computer has
absolutely no inhibitions, and isn’t constrained to any current
philosophies on market behavior or social structure. Creativity
software will present you with an original suggestion to develop
into a workable solution. Some companies invite “creative”
people to their sessions to spark off new ideas. Why not use
computer software to spark off new ideas instead? The combination
of a computer and our human minds is perfect for easy generation
of new ideas. Not only will the computer be more reliable in its
production of fresher and broader stimuli, it will also be less
disruptive and it will keep quiet when necessary. No individual
can provide such a wide-ranging range of stimuli. A computer can
draw its information from an enormous electronic database
including encyclopedias, image warehouses and the entire Internet.
If one stimulus doesn’t work, instantaneously get another!
two methods for improving your group brainstorming sessions. See www.infinn.com/innovationhouse.html
for more details on using computer-based creative thinking
Single computer method
This requires the
use of one computer. Use
the stimuli from the computer to start off the brainstorming
process. Insist that each member of the group make use of the stimulus
to generate the initial ideas.
Then encourage the progression of these initial ideas into
workable solutions. A
note-taker should record all the ideas for later analysis.
Multiple computer method
requires that everyone in the group has their own computer and
each person starts off with his or her own computer-generated
creative stimulus. You now have a situation where everyone in the group is
approaching the problem from different directions. It’s vital,
at this point, to remind participants that they are “supposed to
be” putting forward challenging ideas and that they are fully
justified in putting forward seemingly-strange ideas with the
primary purpose of sparking off further ideas by other people.
Method to Use?
computer method is ideal for any of the following conditions:
• Computer resources are limited.
• You want to be able to brainstorm in any room anywhere (using
• You want to slowly convert from standard brainstorming to
• The people in the group are not good at working by
• You are working by yourself.
computer method is ideal for any of the following conditions:
• You have access to a room of computers.
• The group is good at role-playing and, therefore, will market
and promote their own stimulus with enthusiasm.
• The people in the groups love rowdy and unstructured debates
• The people in the group prefer to generate ideas by
themselves and are usually inhibited by rowdy and unstructured
debates and discussions.
The normal rules
for brainstorming still apply in all cases. No one can say, “it
won’t work” and there’s to be no evaluation of the ideas
until the end of the creative part of the session. The purpose of
the group is to put forward new ideas and to spark off new
solutions in other people and themselves. No one should put other
people, or their ideas, down. Such people should be sent out if
they break the rules; perhaps, only temporarily and with a bit of
humor. The ideas put
forward are proposed as a catalyst for a solution and aren’t
expected to be the final solution.
There are many
other uses of computers in brainstorming sessions, such as (1)
recording and distributing the sequence of ideas and the final
conclusions, (2) allowing simultaneous contributions of ideas by
different people into their own computer, and (3) in the future,
voice-recognition software will enable the entire sequence of
events to be recorded as it happens and replayed exactly.
Creativity software can also be used to analyze and narrow down
the proposed solutions.
The notes made in
these sessions should be made available, not just to the group of
participants, but to many other people in the company.
The same ideas that aren’t used in one situation could
spark off great improvements in other departments and groups.
By withholding ideas and information, you prevent
development of a creative environment. Computer networks are
perfect for the distribution of brainstormed ideas. Group
brainstorming sessions combined with wider distribution can be
looked at as a permanent, company-wide, computer-aided
If you want to
ensure that you are never stuck for a new idea, you need instant
access to an enormous range of stimuli. The range of stimuli
available through your computer is practically infinite. Your
computer is the ideal tool to prompt you into thinking about
things from a different angle at any time. Computer-aided
brainstorming will improve the creative ability of you and your
group and will ensure your brainstorming sessions never dry up.