Rules for better brainstorming

From Pearl Language
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A small variation on OpenIDEO » The Rules of Brainstorming

OpenIDEO happens to think idea generation is an art form. It's about setting a safe, creative space for people to feel like they can say anything, be wild, not be judged, so that new ideas can be born.

To help you generate better ideas, here's a set of rules you can use in traditional group brainstorming, to set the boundaries of that creative space.

Put the rules as clearly visible large banners in the room.


Politely ring a bicycle bell whenever someone seems to forget to play by these rules.

  1. Give everything a chance (a.k.a. Defer judgment)
    Creative spaces don't judge. They let the ideas flow, so that people can build on eachother and foster great ideas. You never know where a good idea is going to come from, the key is make everyone feel like they can say the idea on their mind and allow others to build on it.
    This still means we pose questions and provocations—question everything—so that the ideas can get to a better place. Generate builds and questions tackling different dimensions of the idea.
  2. Encourage wild ideas
    Wild ideas can often give rise to creative leaps. In thinking about ideas that are wacky or out there we tend to think about what we really want without the constraints of technology or materials. We can then take those magical possibilities and perhaps invent new technologies to deliver them.
    We say embrace the most out-of-the-box notions and build build build...
  3. Build on the ideas of others
    Being positive and building on the ideas of others take some skill. In conversation, we try to use and instead of but...
  4. Stay focused on the topic
    We try to keep the discussion on target, otherwise you can diverge beyond the scope of what we're trying to design for.
  5. One conversation at a time
    A lot of conversations happening at once is great! Always think about the challenge topic and how this could apply.
  6. Be visual
    In live brainstorms, use colored markers to write on Post-its that are put on a wall. Nothing gets an idea across faster than drawing it. Doesn’t matter how terrible of a sketcher you are! It's all about the idea behind your sketch.
    Love seeing photos, sketches, found images for your ideas. You could also try your hand at sketching it out or mocking it up on the computer. Embrace visual ideas as the images make them memorable.
    Does someone elses idea excite you? Maybe make them an image to go with their idea.
  7. Go for quantity
    Aim for as many new ideas as possible. In a good session, up to 100 ideas are generated in 60 minutes. Crank the ideas out quickly.