Brainstorming With Others

Mindstorming is an exercise that you can do by yourself. Brain-storming is something that you do with others. Brainstorming is a form of mindstorming done in a group, but it has slightly different rules.

Brainstorming was originally developed by advertising executive Alex Osborn, and was first described in his 1946 book, Applied Imagination. It has since proliferated and is used all over the world, in every type of organization and situation, to generate ideas for a variety of reasons. It is a very simple process to learn and use.

> Six Steps to Brainstorming

Step One: Assemble the group. The ideal number of people in a brainstorming session is four to seven. Below four, you don't have enough minds to generate a large enough variety of different solutions to the problem. With more than seven people, the group becomes too large for participants to get sufficient opportunity to contribute.

Step Two: Do not permit criticism or ridicule. The essential part of brainstorming is that no evaluation of the ideas takes place during the brainstorming session. The entire focus of the brainstorming session is on generating the greatest quantity of ideas possible within a short period of time.

Nothing kills a brainstorming session faster than the tendency of people to criticize the ideas as they are generated. As soon as one person's ideas are criticized, the brainstorming session comes to a halt. No one wants to be criticized. No one wants to be humiliated or ridiculed in front of others. That is why you must concentrate on the quantity of ideas and leave the evaluation of them to another time, or to other people.

Step Three: Set a specific time limit. The ideal length for brain-storming sessions ranges from 15 to 45 minutes. One of the jobs of managers and team leaders is to sit their staff down on a regular basis to brainstorm certain problems. Call everyone together and announce that you are going to brainstorm a particular goal or situation for 15 minutes and then everyone is going to go back to work.You'll be amazed at the results.

Step Four: Select a leader for the group. The leader's job is to encourage everyone to contribute as much as possible. One of the best ways to lead a brainstorming session is to go around the table and encourage each person to contribute an idea—almost like playing cards, where you encourage each person to bet or pass. Once you have gone around the table a couple of times, people will start generating ideas at a rapid rate.

Step Five: Select someone to keep track of the ideas. A key function in a brainstorming session is that of the recorder. This is the person who writes down the ideas as they are generated.

Step Six: Be punctual. Start and stop the brainstorming session exactly on time, no matter how well it is going. At the end, you gather up all the ideas and take them away to be evaluated at a later time.

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