In my opinion, the whole evil consists in this, that this Trusteeship is under the protection of various groups, upon whom any realization of its task just depends, just as these groups each follow their own particular aims and wishes concerning each separate question, then, over the solution of each separate question concerning the basic aim of the Trusteeship, controversy always reigns..'
Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson
Most of us know about brainstorming, or -even worse- have taken part in a brainstorming session. Many agree that it does not work in practice. Still it is an important way to start any project. It facilitates analysis and shows how the others see the situation. Various techniques have been developed. It can be done individually or in a group. For the individual brain mind storming is recommended. When working in a group it is important to agree on a set of rules beforehand. All participants must know what is the goal and what is expected of them.
Some suggestions on these rules:
- During the session no criticism is allowed on the ideas of others. Every 'yes, but ...' pays a dime. this money is used to buy refreshments, the proceeds will be quite enough at the start.
- The place of action is a quiet room and no interference is allowed.
- The rules are discussed first.
- A facilitator chairs the meeting and keeps speeding up.
- All participants makes notes of suggestions made; when noting down things we consider them.
- The wildest ideas are stimulated; it is easier to discard ideas then to find them. Special groupings can be made e.g. impossible ideas, stupid ideas, ludicrous ideas, safe ideas.
- The specific goal is quantity, e.g. in 30 minutes 50 ideas. Quality is not considered at this stage. Critical thinking should be stopped.
- Ideas of others are used as an incentive to come to other ideas: 'Yes, and ....'
- The maximum time is approx. 45 minutes.
Then the ideas are discussed one by one by giving them pluses or minuses. If one and the same idea gets plus and minus this is set aside as an interesting idea and considered later. These are usually mostly interesting because they indicate differences in perception of the participants. Later on the plus is explained (not criticized!) and so is the minus. This may help all to see things from a different perspective.
Many people have bad experiences with brainstorming, because the rules were not clear or simply not enforced. It shows the importance of discipline in this fundamentally chaotic process of idea search. It also shows that a certain technique cannot be used just like that, the time must be ripe for it.