Simple Brainstorming Techniques

Many highly original problem solutions are the result of various brainstorming techniques. Identification of improvement opportunities for existing products or services, new products or services, and problem resolution are among the reasons to use this tool.


brainstorming session

The basic premise behind this idea creation tool is to generate a large number of ideas for your team to consider. Your team will create a synergy, where the effect of the team contribution is greater than what would have been contributed by the same group of individuals. This synergy is developed by piggy-backing new ideas on the tails of previous ideas. Often, substantial ideas are created by piggy-backing.

In a recent training session, the students were asked how to prevent drivers from exceeding the speed limit on interstate highways. Students arrived at the logical conclusions- more police presence, mandatory 65MPH governors on vehicles, revocation of driving privileges. One student suggested that we just blow up the vehicles that were speeding! This kind of creative thinking MUST be encouraged prior to your session. We’ll see why in a moment.

When the flow of ideas began to slow, the session facilitator asked “How would we know which vehicles to blow up?” This question generated several more ideas, including radar-enabled, laser-guided missiles. The far-fetched idea finally led to a more workable solution. Adapting a similar technology like the cameras at intersections to detect drivers running a red light, the team developed a solution to monitor highway speed via radar and have a camera photograph the vehicle plate.

That session is a great example of the synergy achieved in the team environment. As individuals, they may have never arrived at this solution. The team developed this solution in just over one hour!

speed limit sign

When the flow of ideas began to slow, the session facilitator asked “How would we know which vehicles to blow up?” This question generated several more ideas, including radar-enabled, laser-guided missiles. The far-fetched idea finally led to a more workable solution. Adapting a similar technology like the cameras at intersections to detect drivers running a red light, the team developed a solution to monitor highway speed via radar and have a camera photograph the vehicle plate.

That session is a great example of the synergy achieved in the team environment. As individuals, they may have never arrived at this solution. The team developed this solution in just over one hour!

Ready to Brainstorm?

  • Conducting a brainstorming session is simple. Just follow these steps:
  • Determine the session facilitator; generally the team leader facilitates the session but it could be a Six Sigma Black or Green Belt if the team leader doesn’t have experience in conducting the session. 
  • Determine prior to the session who will be writing down the team’s responses. 
  • Have flip-chart paper available- use of a dry erase board isn’t prohibited, but flip-chart paper is permanent. Dry erase boards, yes, can be erased… losing all your important ideas if you can’t finish the session within the allotted time. 
  • Gather your team in a conference room. This is preferred to a classroom setting. A classroom can be used by arranging the tables and chairs in a “U-Shape”. This encourages participation. 
  • State the issue to be considered. 
  • Solicit responses from the team. 

The team must create a set of rules for brainstorming for the session. Ensure your team has read and understands the rules. Conduct a practice session to teach these brainstorming techniques if most of your team members are new to this concept. Brainstorming ideas for the practice session can be found by clicking on the link

Effective brainstorming sessions are the result of following specific guidelines. The session facilitator should already be aware of these guidelines, but if you’re new to conducting a session, click on the specific guidelines link located above.

Remember to use the combination of rules and guidelines to have the best brainstorming technique possible. After all, the idea is to be successful.

After the session, collect all the responses and categorize them. Remove any repetitive responses. The Affinity Diagram is a great tool for placing responses into appropriate categories. Then compare the responses against the decision criteria to create a list of potential solutions. Team voting is one way to determine the best possible solution.

These same guidelines can also be used for brainstorming goals, either business goals or individual ones. Click on the link to learn more.

Read about some advanced brainstorming techniques like nominal group technique and assumption busting.


›› Brainstorming

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