Brainstorming, IDEO Style

The problem with brainstorming is that everyone thinks they already do it.

IDEO, the award-winning design and development firm known around the world for their creative solutions to everyday problems, begs to differ.

In the book “The Art of Innovation,” IDEO general manager Tom Kelley shows how you can deliver more value, create more energy, and foster more innovation through better brainstorming.

Seven Secrets for Better Brainstorming

  • Sharpen the focus – good brainstormers start with a well-honed statement of the problem
  • Playful rules – don’t start to critique or debate ideas
  • Number your ideas – it’s a tool to motivate the participants and it’s a great way to jump back and forth between ideas without losing your place
  • Build and jump – try building on an idea by encouraging another push or introducing a small variation; or take a jump, either back to an earlier path or forward to a completely new idea
  • The space remembers – great brainstorm leaders understand the power of spatial memory. Use tools that allow you to write all ideas down, and as you move around the room, spatial memory will help people recapture the mind-set they had when the idea first emerged
  • Stretch your mental muscles – mental warm ups (word games, content-related homework, etc.) will help you get in shape for better brainstorming
  • Get physical – the best brainstormers often get physical; they bring in “props,” prototype designs with materials, and act out possible solutions

Got a problem that’s bugging you?

Find a suitable space, order some supplies, get a good group together, and brainstorm up several dozen possible solutions.



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