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Brainstorming Techniques by Abhishek Jain

This section is about how to do the brainstorming process. I am going to use illustration of a red box which symbolizes the problem statement to make the teaching process easy.
Brainstorming with a group of people is a powerful technique. Brainstorming creates new ideas, solves problems, motivates and develops teams. Brainstorming motivates because it involves members of a team in bigger management issues, and it gets a team working together. However, brainstorming is not simply a random activity. Brainstorming needs to be structured and it follows brainstorming rules.

STEP 1: Plan, agree and define the objective
Ensure all team members are participating in the brainstorm process and understand what the main aim off it is. Keep the brainstorming objective simple so it creates no confusion. Allocate a time limit, this will help keep random brainstorming activity under control.

STEP 2: Have a facilitator to manage the session.
Have a facilitator who manages the brainstorming session. Without a facilitator it is really easy for the team members to go off on tangents and end up on totally unnecessary and trivial topics. The facilitatorís job is also to keep everyone engaged and encouraged. Do not dismiss any suggestion; criticism might inhibit members to suggest ideas. Have a white board or something similar where ideas can be put up so everyone can see them. At the end of the session use colored pens to categorize different ideas. And then as a group assess and evaluate ideas.

STEP 3: Figure the plan of action
At the end of the structured brainstorming session, team members will be able to see results of this activity and thus will be motivated to further act. Now the next step is to figure out how to utilize the brainstorming data gathered and use it for the next step.

Brainstorming individually is a different kind of process than a team based one. There is more emphasis on the creative element. Following are some different techniques which I have learned.
Technique 1: Freewriting
When free writing, let your thoughts flow and write what comes into your mind. Donít worry about style or other superficial issues. What matters the most is the content. The quality of what you wrote can be judged later on. When free write you can set a time limit (e.g. 15 minutes). Crucial point is that you keep writing even if you believe you are not saying anything substantial. After you finish the freewriting session, go over what you wrote couple of times and you will discover small valuable things which will give direction to your paper.

Technique 2: Break down topic into small topics
Recursively breakdown the general topic into smaller and smaller pieces according to grouping. For example if you are trying to list objects inside a Hospital then following can be recursive process.

Technique 3: The 3 perspectives
Looking at something from different perspectives also helps to see things completely.
1) Describe it
2) Trace it
3) Map it

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