Brainstorming

‘Brainstorming’ is a management concept first introduced in 1953 by Alex Osborne, a Madison Avenue Advertisement Executive, in his book ‘Applied Imagination’. Later the researchers developed, expanded and fine-tuned it further.

Unlike a stormy session, brainstorming actually involves a group discussion to find solution to a problem in an informal, relaxed and open-minded environment. Such an uninhibited approach becomes conducive to generate all possible creative ideas, even quirky ones, to resolve the issue in hand. It is essential, therefore, to be uncritical during the discussion welcoming unusual, varied and manifold ideas. Encourage to combine and improve upon the ideas as the tempo of the discussion picks up. Withhold analysis and evaluation till the final stage.

Involvement of a team critical to the problem and from different disciplines makes the discussion knowledge and experience based, and gives depth and focus to it.

The creativity element makes brainstorming an enjoyable exercise and the unbiased participation develops commitment among team members once a decision is reached. The team usually consists of a compact group of 5 to 7 members.

However, brain storming sessions sometimes tend to get nasty due to personality conflicts; ego and opinion clashes. The distracting behaviour of some members results in ‘blocking’ the sessions.

An able facilitator can command he situation by guiding the discussion in an amiable manner, sticking to the right course, refocusing when sidetracked, and mingling fun and creativity into it.

It helps to hold the meeting in a comfortable environment. Prepare and circulate the subject matter of the discussion, but not so much as to hinder its freewheeling nature. Warm up the session with a convivial introduction; cite the basic aspects of the problem and the criteria to be met. Assign a person to prepare short notes on a computer and to project them on a screen during the session.

Try different ideas if the session does not take off. Stimulate random input to get unexpected ideas. Take breaks if the session becomes long and weary. Here are some novel techniques if the session falters and quality ideas fail to come forth.

Stepladder technique gives opportunity to express ideas one person at a time. Brain-writing involves written approach. Brain-netting is the online mode of discussion.

Certain other techniques are designed to handle specific situations. Reverse brainstorming can be applied to improve products and services. Star-bursting is a questionnaire method used in evaluating business proposals. Role-storming by assuming others’ identities is an entertaining way to reduce inhibitions.

The next step involves sifting through and analysing the ideas gathered for final decision and action. Affinity diagrams help in identifying common themes. Grid or paired comparison analysis helps in choosing between different options.

If managed well with an open mind brainstorming sessions assist in finding radical solutions to problems, often from unexpected quarters.

The history of the progress of civilization is replete with such radical innovations despite endless predictions of doomsayers. Julius Frontinus, a distinguished Roman aristocrat of 1st century AD, predicted that there was no scope for further inventions as they had already reached their limit a long time ago.

Article Written by Dolphi D'Silva [531 Words]
Posted on Oct 25, 2013 with Views.

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