Guideline: Brainstorming and Idea Reduction
Brainstorming is a short group session where everyone is allowed to say whatever they feel is important to the project. This guideline explains how to organize a Brainstorming Session.
Main Description

Brainstorming means to spend a short amount of time, say 15 minutes, where everyone in the room is allowed to say whatever they feel is important to the project. After that, a facilitator leads the group in organizing and prioritizing the results. Rules for brainstorming are the following:

  • Start out by clearly stating the objective of the brainstorming session.
  • Generate as many ideas as possible.
  • Let your imagination soar.
  • Do not allow criticism or debate while you are gathering information.
  • Once information is gathered, mutate and combine ideas.

The information gathering is typically very informal. Ideas are expressed to the facilitator, who writes them down on self-stick notes, and then posts the notes on easel charts. The information is then "pruned," meaning that similar ideas are combined and outrageous ideas are eliminated.

Other techniques to reduce the amount of self-stick notes are to:

  • Have everyone take a simple vote.
  • Let everyone prioritize each idea by category (for example, critical, important, and nice to have), which have assigned weights (for example, 3, 2, 1). The sum of the priorities for each idea will tell you its importance in relation to the other.

Some ideas may simply be stored away for a later session if they need more development. The remaining self-stick notes are then moved around and organized in a way that makes sense.