Brainstorming is a process for developing creative solutions to problems. Brainstorming works by focusing on a problem, and then deliberately coming up with as many solutions as possible and by pushing the ideas as far as possible. One of the reasons it is so effective is that the brainstormers not only come up with new ideas in a session, but also spark off from associations with other people’s ideas by developing and refining them. While some research has found brainstorming to be ineffective, this seems more of a problem with the research itself than with the brainstorming tool (Isaksen, 1998). There are four basic rules in brainstorming (Osborn, 1963) intended to reduce social inhibitions among team members, stimulate idea generation, and increase overall creativity:

  • No criticism: Criticism of ideas are withheld during the brainstorming session as the purpose is on generating varied and unusual ideals and extending or adding to these ideas. Criticism is reserved for the evaluation stage of the process. This allows the members to feel comfortable with the idea of generating unusual ideas.
  • Welcome unusual ideas: Unusual ideas are welcomed as it is normally easier to “tame down” than to “tame up” as new ways of thinking and looking at the world may provide better solutions.
  • Quantity Wanted: The greater the number of ideas generated, the greater is the chance of producing a radical and effective solution.
  • Combine and improve ideas: Not only are a variety of ideals wanted, but also ways to combine ideas in order to make them better.