Brainstorming in a group can be a very effective way to come up with a lot of ideas, but the method also has many limitations and obstacles to overcome in order to generate good results:
- everyone tries hard to make their own voice heard so that they forget to listen to each other
- the noise makes it hard to think
- it is easy to implement the “yes and” verbally but it is much harder to control your body language
- the solutions that the group come up with are very similar since they are inspired by each other
- in the end you have a lot of ideas but they are only sparks and need a lot of development
This method gives you space to come up with ideas and develop your own thoughts individually before presenting them to a group. Everyone gets a chance to make their ideas heard, you will end up with a bigger spectrum of solutions and during the meeting you will have more time to develop the ideas.
This method can be used by a group of 2-6 people. It is better to keep it small, otherwise it will be hard to hear everyone out within the time frame.
5 min: Idea generate individually.
20 min: Get together in the group to share you ideas with each other. Everyone votes for the idea they like the best through idea voting and the best ideas are then developed together by the group through regular brainstorming.
5 min: After the sharing and development of the best ideas is completed the group separates to further idea generate individually for 5 minutes more. You can either focus on coming up with new ideas or build on ideas from the previous sharing.
20 min: Get together for the last time to share your individual thoughts and once again develop the ideas the group likes the best. Before finishing the meeting, write down the best ideas the group came up with to develop further in new sessions.
If possible it can be a good idea to present the problem to the team a couple of days ahead of the workshop to give them more time to think about and develop ideas prior to the meeting.
Because the ideas are generated individually the members wont be as biased from hearing others’ thoughts and the ideas will be more distinct from each other. When gathering in the group to share ideas everyone will have something to present and it is not only the person who talks the loudest that will be heard.
- Present your ideas swiftly and concisely so that everyone will have time to share their own.
- Come up with and share new ideas during the 20 minute sharing period.
A group is tasked with finding solutions to the question “How could kids be encouraged to read more books?”
After a quick gathering to go over the guidelines of the session the group splits and everyone finds their own corner where they think about solutions to the problem for 5 minutes.
When the group gathers again everyone shares what they came up with. To present they show quick sketches they made on a piece of paper and explains it with a few sentences. The solutions span from anything from applications and games to interactive books and rewards. Everyone presented their ideas within 1-2 minutes and they now have 10 minutes left for voting on their favorites and develop them.
After working as a group for 20 minutes everyone once again gets 5 minutes individually to come up with more ideas or develop the best ideas from previous sharing.
When the 5 minutes are over the group comes together for one last 20 minute session to share their ideas and vote on their favorites. The best ideas in this round were more focused on how to reward kids for reading but also how to make them read by customizing books to fit the reader.
Before the session is over the facilitator summarizes the best ideas for the group to make sure that everyone agrees and keeps the sketches for further development.
The facilitator’s role is to keep track of the time and make sure that the group moves on to the next phase when it is time to do so. The facilitator also makes sure that everyone gets to present their ideas to the whole group so that no one feels left out and to summarize the result of the group’s discussions and keep the notes from the session for further development.
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Photo credits to Freddy the boy (creative commons)