#Generate, #dream, #take risks, #inspire

Design Thinking offers a variety of new ways to accelerate the creative process. During the first contact session at the SID program we were immersed in the world of Design Thinking with an intense two-day workshop held by guest lecturers Katja Tschimmel and Mariana Valença.

BRAINSTORMING is a widely spread idea generation tool that can be extremely effective when conducted appropriately. As explained in Katja’s article Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation, brainstorming is a participatory idea generation session, which is done without discussing the ideas or thinking them through to the end. The main goal is to generate a myriad of ideas in a short period of time, being emotions and intuition more important that rational thinking.

The process

Team members start generating new ideas in complete SILENCE. Each of the members write down their ideas on post-it notes and sticks them on the wall (see Fig. 1). After a while, participants start elaborating on the other ideas. The goal is that an idea of one participant can be a source of inspiration for another. Brainstorming is a good technique to generate ideas that the whole group feels ownership of.

Brainstorming session SID

Fig. 1 Brainstorming session during the DT workshop

While reading the book The Innovation Expedition I was introduced to the spiritual father of the brainstorming technique, the American Alex Osborn. From him I learned two essential rules when brainstorming – ‘Defer your judgment’ and ‘go for quantity’. The underlying assumption of brainstorming is that people are scared of saying something wrong.

“The best way to have a good

idea is to have lots of ideas”.

Linus Pauling, chemist

During the workshop, Katja Tschimmel remarked on the importance of DIVERGENT THINKING (exploring many possible solutions to a problem)- she highlighted that when moving through the different stages of the project, it is vital to focus on when to be divergent and when to be convergent (focusing on coming up with the single answer to a problem) – never do both at the same time – especially when brainstorming. If you are trying to improve your divergent thinking, try to improve your fluency by generating lots of ideas, your flexibility by thinking in many directions and improve your originality – remember that we are original when our experiences differ than others.

One recurring problem during brainstorming is the IDEA KILLER, comments that prevent your from being wild when generating ideas. Don’t let those comments get you down when innovating and make sure to have a poster clearly visible on the wall!


The idea-killer poster!

Free to download from the book: Creativity today.

Key takeaways

  • Go for quantity not for perfection!
  • Don’t be afraid of saying something wrong, your idea might inspire another!
  • Postpone your judgment and forget idea killers!
  • Be passionate and surf along ideas from the group, it is co-creative!
  • The ideas belong to the group!

Lena Illera

Service Innovation and Design MBA Student

Van Wulfen, Gijs (2013). The innovation expedition – a visual toolkit to start innovation. Amsterdam: BIS Publishers.

Tschimmel, Katja (2012). Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation. In: Proceedings of the XXIII ISPIM Conference: Action for Innovation: Innovating from Experience. Barcelona.

Creativity Today. Accessed 09.10.2015


5 thoughts on “#Generate, #dream, #take risks, #inspire

  1. Hi Lena!

    Thank you for you post, you really summed up the idea of brainstorming well! And thanks for sharing the Idea killer-poster, that one should always be hanging on the wall when brainstorming 😉 Think big!

    Best, Saara

  2. Interesting read Lena 🙂 I liked how you dug a little deeper in one Design Thinking method instead trying of cover them all. I think brainstorming is one of the most powerful tools to create and build ideas but in some cases it is used in inefficient way. Brainstorming is seen as an easy tool and maybe that’s why people don’t think they need to practice or study about it. It was good that you pointed out the key ideas and things that should be avoided in brainstorming session. And I liked how you pointed out the key takeaways on the end!

  3. Totally agree with your point of view Lena on ‘Brainstorming’ which is a group creativity technique to generate ideas, and to come up with creative solutions to problems. It provides a free and open environment that encourages everyone to participate. Quirky ideas are welcomed and built upon too 🙂 all participants are encouraged to contribute fully, which eventually & effectively lead to develop a rich array of creative solutions.
    Also like your take on ‘Divergent thinking’ as new way of tackling problems instead of defaulting to our normal convergent approach where we make the best choice out of available alternatives, it encourages us to take a divergent approach, to explore new alternatives, new solutions, new ideas that have not existed before thus creating an original one.

    Loved the ‘idea killer’ poster would download and pinned it on the wall esp. whenever we have brainstorming sessions in future! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. Thanks for sharing the 3 points from the class which I wanted to keep in my mind for later DT processes: FLUENCY in generating ideas, FLEXIBILITY in thinking and ORIGINALITY of experiences.

  5. Thank you for elaborating the ideation method, brainstorming, in more detail! Despite the fact that brainstorming is being widely used as an ideation tool, I argue that do we use the method in the right and most fruitful way….Your blog illustrates the essentials of the method in a compact way. I was drawn to your blog due to the interesting and nicely put heading that is supported with the blog context 🙂

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