AuthorTim Barnett, Mark Mendenhall, Marcia Simmering

Page 43

Brainstorming was developed by Alex F. Osborn in 1939 to enhance the ability of work groups to solve problems creatively. The participants in his early groups called his process "brainstorming" because it seemed to them that they were using their brains "to storm a creative problem and to do so in commando fashion, with each stormer audaciously attacking the same objective." According to David Whetten and Kim Cameron, there are four cardinal principles that govern effective brainstorming processes:

No evaluation of the effectiveness of any given alternative is to be undertaken while the group is generating alternatives. Evaluation of alternatives must come at a later stage in the problem-solving process.

The leader of the group must place no parameters upon the group regarding what kinds of alternatives or solutions should be suggested; in fact, the team leader should encourage the group to come up with novel ideas that normally would not receive consideration in the organization.

The quantity of ideas should initially take precedence over the quality of ideas; that is, the leader should push the group to produce a large number of ideas irrespective of their quality.

Participants should feel free to add to or modify previous ideas proposed by others; it is often the case that marginal ideas that are added upon or altered in some fashion become transformed into powerful solutions. It should be emphasized that ideas do not belong to the individual who presents them, but to the group.

When generating ideas, it is best to have the members of a group first generate ideas individually and silently rather than shouting out ideas as an entire group. Research indicates that by having people work individually, they generate a greater number of unique ideas than when brainstorming as a group. After individual brainstorming, all ideas can be shared, and further brainstorming as a group can be used.

What topics should be addressed in brainstorming sessions? While theoretically it is possible to brainstorm around any topic, Osborn believed that the problem or topic should be specific rather than general; that is, it should be narrow enough so that the participants can easily comprehend its nature and target their responses to its solution. Also, multiple problems, such as brainstorming about what a new product should be named, how it should be packaged...

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