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.
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.
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.
- 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!
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