Brainstorm – group discussion method. The purpose of the method is to search for new ideas, suggestions for solving business problems, voiced by the moderator at the beginning of the collective discussion. The method was first formulated as a term and described in the book by Alex Osborne “How to invent” in 1942. At the end of the twentieth century, the open discussion by Osborne, the advertiser, was popularized and began to be used everywhere. Large companies took it as a basis for working with subordinates.
In general, a brainstorm can be presented as a collection of various options for solving business problems proposed in the process of their understanding by the participants of the discussion with further analysis of the possibilities and prospects for their implementation in the production process. During the discussion, no criticism of any of the proposed ideas is allowed.
Brainstorm technique consists of the following organizational steps:
- Statement of the problem or issues that need to be addressed.
- Formation of a group of experts consisting of three or four people who are able to offer the best ideas.
- Intellectual warm-up, creating a free atmosphere and activating thought processes. Answering the questions of the presenter, not related to the topic of the forthcoming discussion, the participants are freed from fear, inner constraint, overcome barriers in communication with the facilitator and other participants, thereby establishing communication skills.
- Formation of ideas or “brainstorming.” Participants suggest ideas. In order to avoid evaluating ideas at this stage, including critical ones, the facilitator builds the group’s work in such a way that any negative comments from the group members are forbidden to speak, and the introduction of any new idea into the discussion is accompanied by encouragement from the facilitator. In order to block all negative reactions, the discussion is conducted at the fastest possible pace. For the statement, each participant is given a few seconds.
- Selection of the best ideas according to predetermined criteria. A pre-formed expert group or presenter will announce all proposals received from participants in the discussion. Ideas are not personalized, but appreciated. If the proposed ideas do not meet the established criteria, the discussion can be continued, starting from the previous stage of “forming ideas”.
- Summarizing the results of the discussion.
Proponents of the method, claiming that brainstorm brings results, proceed from the fact that, firstly, several people will be able to offer more ideas than one person and, secondly, the rejection of instant criticism leads to positive consequences in the form of free expression participants in the discussion of thoughts and ideas.
Meanwhile, there is the opposite opinion. Recently, many talented and truly successful business people have criticized this method and do not consider it effective for seeking progressive ideas. So, the ingenious engineer, and also one of founders of Apple corporation Steve Wozniak asserts that it is necessary to work alone, that only the one who works alone without assistants and out of team can create the best product. Writer Kevin Ashton shared in a social network a story about how this method, which is considered to be one of the best in the modern world, actually does not work.
The main problem of the brainstorming is that the receipt of a large number of ideas from several people at the same time does not give any guarantees that the ideas will be unique. As the seeds that are sown in large numbers, far from all germinate, and in the case of ideas, only a few of them, perhaps one or two, will bring a positive result. If we offer two different groups of people sitting in different audiences to discuss the same problem, it is highly likely that the list of proposed solutions to this problem will be approximately the same.
The reason lies in the fact that original ideas are not born suddenly from provoked emotions and reactions of people, but are formed within a certain period of time from small but constant discoveries, step by step, stage by stage. This fact was first confirmed by the results of the experiments of W. Ogburn and D. Thomas, who made a real discovery when a group of people had 148 ideas at the same time. In the course of the experiment, the list of identical ideas only increased.
As it turned out, the group discussion method so much loved by the audience – the brainstorm does not really work. To create an innovative product requires creativity. The birth of an idea is not yet creativity, it is just an inspiration. Creativity lies in the ability to find fundamentally new solutions to translate ideas into reality, their real use in the process of creating any things.