“Houston, We Have A Problem”
Brainstorming Made Simple: Best Step-by-Step Tool for Educators
What is the Best Proven Brainstorming Tool?
Just Follow these (8) Easy and Simple Steps for a Successful Brainstorming Session
Identify the Problem
Select the Team Members
Notify the Team Members
Begin the Brainstorming Session
What Happens Next
Just another one of those new, fancy buzzwords you should use to sound smart in meetings or is it the real deal? Actually, Brainstorming or better known as BS (no pun intended) has been around for many decades, at least since 1941. Consider adding it to your toolbox. Maybe a better question is: What is Brainstorming? This Brainstorming Tool guide will show you what’s what.
This guide is not just another theoretical, complicated guide filled with meaningless jargon but is written by a professional who has used this proven technique. This tool works and this step-by-step approach will guide you through a successful BS session.
In our everyday lives, whether we realize it or not, we are constantly brainstorming at a sub-conscious level. Brainstorming is done even during the process of performing simple tasks and we are presented with choices on a daily basis. For example, you are shopping for a new coat and are overwhelmed with the choice but you have some idea of what you are looking for. So the sub-conscience brainstorming process begins. What color, style, season, etc. You are brainstorming ideas and solutions. Subconsciously you consider your options and what is best for you. This is an important concept to understand. SO LET’S BEGIN THIS BS SESSION!
In a classroom environment, studies reveal for every 30-minutes, the average adult attention span is approximately 5 minutes.
The statement is compounded by the union between the smartphone and mankind. Verify the statement the next time you are in a classroom or conference setting. Observe others as well as yourself. With that in mind, it is best to optimize the use of the five minutes that are available. Of course, the disclaimer is the subject matter at hand and the focused, concentrated effort required at that time. The following (8) steps for brainstorming actually work! This guide will help you to easily identify and help you solve almost any problem. I have used this tool many times and it is a proven method. If you follow these easy steps you will also experience success. Ok so give it a go mate – this BS tool is no bs – TRY IT!
The best part of this tool is it can be done in less than 2 hours.
Step 1: Identify the Problem and the Objective of the BS Session
- An accurate and concise statement of the problem is the most important step in the process.
- Develop a clear and succinct statement of the problem. “Houston, We Have A Problem” is not a concise statement and does not provide actionable steps to solve the problem. An actionable statement of the problem might be: “We are entering a minefield of large pieces of space debris and the shield may not withstand the impact!” This is an actionable statement of the problem.
- Objective: Identify and implement a course of action to avoid the minefield.
- Team members must have Ownership and Agreement in the development of the problem statement.
Step 2: Selection of Team Members
- How many team members or participants should attend?
- The recommendation is no more than 15.
- It has been my experience that more than 15 seems to complicate the process.
- Who are the Team Members and who should attend the session:
- The Team Members include the Team Leader, Team Members and the Scribe(s).
- The selection of Team Members depends on whether the problem is more generic or specific. If generic, there would be a wider range of team members representing all areas. If it is more specific, such as “The math classrooms require additional tools”, math-related team members would be involved.
- If a selected Team Member cannot attend, ideally, he or she should appoint someone as a replacement.
- What are the roles of the Team Members?
- Team Leader: The Team Leader presides over the team, controls the direction and is responsible for the success of the session.
- Participant: The Participants are the members who will provide ideas and solutions for the BS session.
- Scribe(s): The Scribes are the note takers and are responsible for documenting all ideas and solutions.
Step 3: Notification of the Meeting to Team Members
- Send a communique of choice (email for example) to each Team Member well in advance and include.
- Purpose of the communique, i.e., to invite you to a meeting for the purpose of…
- Provide a statement of the problem.
- Time and date of the meeting.
- Duration: no more than 2-hours.
- No phones PLEASE.
Step 4: Environment and Pre-meeting Preparation
- Ideally, select a quiet room with preferably no phones and little risk of interruptions.
- Use the good old fashion “flipchart“. Use two (2) if the size of the group is large.
- Avoid the use of electronic equipment to scribe ideas and solutions. The reason is to avoid any malfunction that would result in a disruption of the process.
Step 5: Brainstorming Session Rules
- Do not interrupt, criticize or judge an idea.
- Nothing but ideas are to be expressed.
- There are no silly, stupid or dumb ideas.
- Nobody should feel embarrassed or inhibited to express an idea.
- It is a rapid-fire expression of ideas.
- No one takes turns, just express the idea at will.
- The actual brainstorming session duration is 15 minutes (Fa’get About It! if it lasts a little longer). It has been my experience that after 15-minutes, most ideas have been expressed.
- No external interruptions such as phone calls.
- Go for large quantities of ideas.
- Build on each other’s ideas.
- Encourage wild and exaggerated ideas.
- The scribes will write each idea as it is expressed.
- Try not to take the time to clarify an idea, write it on the flipchart with enough meaning to understand it when it is reviewed.
- The Team Leader must control the session and not allow judgment comments like “That won’t work” or “We tried that before.” THIS IS ABSOLUTELY NOT ALLOWED.
Step 6: Begin the Brainstorming Session
- Write the Main Rules on a flipchart page and pin the page where it is visible to the team prior to the meeting.
- Write the Ancillary Rules on a flipchart page and pin the page where it is visible to the team and next to the Main Rules prior to the meeting.
- Explain the BS process and answer any questions.
- Explain the rules and answer any questions.
- State the problem, make necessary changes and get sign-off. Everyone OWNS the problem statement to be solved.
- Begin the 15-minute session.
- If a rule is violated, as quickly as possible, point to the rule on the flipchart page or politely interrupt the member and remind him.
- You will know when the team has begun to exhaust their creative ideas because of time-lapse between ideas increases.
- At this time, inform the team that the time has expired.
Step 7: Now What – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Please note: Reference to the good, the bad and the ugly apply only to the creative ideas.
The brainstorming session has now been completed, good job Team – take a break!
It is now time to evaluate, review and categorize each creative idea. Begin with the first idea on the list and categorize it into The Good (good idea), The Bad (not so good – place in the “parking lot” for later consideration) and The Ugly (ugh – throw it out) categories.
During the evaluation avoid the pitfall of spending too much time on each idea. This is not the time for an in-depth analysis or discussion. Categorize the idea within a reasonable amount of time since it will require further analysis in the next step. The result of this phase is three lists, move on to Step 8.
Step 8: Feasibility/Cost Analysis/Implementation and Follow Up
I am not going to spend time on this subject since it lends itself to a whole new dimension. Each good idea that has been listed requires assignment to provide in-depth analysis to determine its feasibility and cost. Sign-up NOW for these FREE HOW TO TOOLS when they become available:
- “How to Prioritize Your Brainstorming Idea List” – A Tool for Educators and Administrators
- “How to Manage a Project (a proven Project Management Methodology)” – A Tool for Educators and Administrators
- “How to Manage Multiple Projects” – A Tool for Educators and Administrators
Just sign-up for these FREE TOOLS and they will be sent to you when they become available. Download the Brainstorming Tool Here.
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