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Brainstorming background

Wikipedia defines brainstorming as "a group creativity technique" to generate multiple possible solutions to a problem (in our case a desing challenge)

Grandfather of Brainstorming is Alex Osborn, who in 1957 was frustrated with lack of creativity and innovation of employees. He argued "that the lack of creativity was a function of individuals' tendency to emphasize judgment (i.e., evaluation of ideas) over originality. Group members who are concerned with potential negative evaluation of their ideas will not achieve high levels of creativity".[1]. Although experimental research indicates that group brainstorming is not necessarily more effective than individual idea generation. It is however useful for "boosting morale, enhancing work enjoyment, and improving team work"[2]

We will be working in groups of about four people. Each group will develop one prototype, so this means that at the start of the second day, one idea should be selected. There is however, considerable evidence from literature that brainstorming in larger groups does not improve, but rather reduces the quantity of new ideas (Mullen, 1991). We therefore first start our brainstorming session in groups of two people. After 20 minutes, groups of 4 are formed. At this point, the generated ideas are exchanged, combined and filtered so that 1 idea remains. It is a good idea to also keep a backup-plan ready, in the case that other groups have the exact same idea or if the idea turnes out to be completely unfeasible.

Our session

We have only one hour for the whole session(16.00-17.00), including presentation and feedback. This means that we have a very tight schedule. We therefore chose to set strict durations for the separate parts. The ideas that have been generated can be expanded on during the dinner.

  1. (5 mins) Introduction
  2. (18 mins) 1-on-1 brainstorming
  3. (18 mins) Sharing and selecting one idea in groups of 4.
  4. (8 mins) 1-minute 'pitches' of the idea
  5. (10 mins) General feedback on ideas by Waag/AM people.

Brainstorm pointers

This is a list of guidelines for you to keep in mind during the brainstorm process [ | most of these come from Osborn]

  • There is no such things as a bad idea (the goal is to first generate as many ideas as possible, not to assess them)
  • The wilder the idea, the better; it is easier to tame down than to think up.
  • Quantity is wanted. The greater the number of ideas, the more the likelihood of winners.
  • Combination and improvement are sought In addition to contributing ideas of their own, participants should suggest how ideas of others can be turned into better ideas; or how two or more ideas can be joined into still another idea (1 + 1 = 3).
  • Try not to get stuck on one line of thinking. If you have spent some time on one problem or one type of solution, pause, take a step back and try to find a completely different idea.


We will provide multicolored pens and post-its and big paper sheets for your creative needs.


  • [Brainstorming on wikipedia |]
  • Mullen, B., Johnson, C., & Salas, E. (1991). Productivity loss in brainstorming groups: A meta-analytic integration. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 12, 3-23.
  • Group Facilitation, Winter 1999 by Mongeau, Paul A, Morr, Mary Claire [3]
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