last updated 11 Jan 2020

Brainstorming sometimes called whiteboarding is a way generate ideas and come up with creative solutions to problems.
Madison Avenue advertising executive Alex Osborn developed the original approach and published it in his 1953 book, "Applied Imagination." Since then, researchers have made many improvements to his original technique.

We've used in business, but I used it with a group junior high kids at a church retreat where we had to come up with a way to put on a skit to demonstrate a bible passage. We also used it in the Sierra Club to come up with ideas to recruit younger members.

Conventional group problem solving can often be undermined by unhelpful group behavior. It uses rules to keep extroverts from supressing ideas from introverts.
In brainstorming quirky ideas are welcomed and built upon, and all participants are encouraged to contribute fully, helping them develop a rich array of creative solutions.

Brainstorming combines a relaxed, informal approach to problem solving with lateral thinking. It encourages people to come up with thoughts and ideas that can, at first, seem a bit crazy. Some of these ideas can be crafted into original, creative solutions to a problem, while others can spark even more ideas. This helps to get people unstuck by "jolting" them out of their normal ways of thinking.
It increases the richness of ideas explored, which means that you can often find better solutions to the problems that you face.

Several studies have shown that individual brainstorming produces more - and often better - ideas than group brainstorming.
When you brainstorm on your own, you don't have to worry about other people's egos or opinions, and you can be freer and more creative.

Once you get an initial list you may want to make a 2nd cut. Some peoples ideas may generate ideas in others.

Then come up with a way of evaluating the list. Cost, Benefit, Risk, Need vs Want, ...
This may be brainstormed also.

Rules or guideposts

  • Go for quantity not quality.
  • Avoid criticizing or rewarding ideas. No idea is a bad idea
  • Everyone's ideas are valued
  • Wait for everyone to put out their ideas.
  • Make a 2nd pass for new ideas generated by other's ideas
After you get the list come up with a way of evaluating the list. Cost, Benefit, Risk, Need vs Want, ...

Finally evaluate the list.
This may require negotiation on weighting the evaluation criteria.

Brainstorming - Creativity Techniques from
Brainstorming - Wikipedia
Better Brainstorming | Harvard Business Review