15- 30 minutes
A big sheet of paper or a whiteboard or a wall on which to post sticky notes
Pens and markers of different colours
What is this tool and what is its purpose and benefit?
Brainstorming is an idea generation method that is usually done in a group. The idea is to generate many ideas freely without judgement in a short time. Idea selection is done afterwards with the most promising ideas being selected from the pool of generated ideas.
Steps how to use this tool in practice
The same steps apply when working individually, in pairs or in a group.
Take the identified problem to generate ideas for and think of the people you want to invite to a brainstorming session, whose input could be relevant.
Prepare the session, such as the room, sticky notes, boards for idea selection, catering, and invite the participants.
Start the session by explaining the problem for which the ideas are generated.
Move on to idea generation, brainstorming. Everyone is free to generate ideas at any time. As the moderator, write all the ideas down on sticky notes and attached on a whiteboard. Ideas can also be directly written on the whiteboard, but clustering them later is easier with sticky notes that can be moved around. Allow for instance 10 minutes for brainstorming to keep ideas fresh. You can extend the ideation if it seems that more ideas are coming or stop it earlier if ideas are saturated. You can also encourage ideation.
Once ready, group ideas by similarity, and identify together the most relevant ones to bring to the next phase. Keep ideas that have not been selected as those might be needed later.
Tips and hints for using this tool
You can have an ice-breaking activity before ideation or use other methods, such as music, to help people relax and open their minds. You may also go outside, change the location or have people to move to different seats to boost idea generation.
There are many online tools to facilitate online brainstorming.
Other tools of this phase
Soliciting the expertise of the crowd.
A visual map of existing solutions to the identified problem.
A visual idea generation diagram.
Generating ideas quietly and getting inspired by others.