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"InnoSupport: Supporting Innovation in SMEs"4.2.


4 Tools for developing innovative solutions

4.2. Brainstorming
People want to think together. People want to collaborate with others and to take decisions together, though be sure about the solution of a problem. The most powerful and efficient intuitive method in doing that is brainstorming. The power of brainstorming is generated by the multitude of ideas issued on a time unit and by the originality. Today reality: new technologies, the great amount of information have determined new approaches to manage a business. A manager as a leader has to build a good team. People want to feel free so that they can express themselves. The main key to success is communication. Brainstorming is a method that makes possible free communication between people. Brainstorming is a method that makes people think and be responsible for their decisions. What is Brainstorming? Brainstorming is a technique to generate ideas. Brainstorming is a process to create new ideas, when a person produces a wide range of ideas or a group of people meet and issue ideas about a specific area. For more definition click here. The initiator of the brainstorming method is Alex Osborn. The method was presented in 1948 in the book called Your creative power. According to Osborn: "Brainstorm means using the brain to storm a creative problem and to do so "in commando fashion, each stormer audaciously attacking the same objective."

4.2.1. Why and how to use Brainstorming ...................................................................... 2 4.2.2. Where is Brainstorming used?.............................................................................. 2 4.2.3. Schema and procedure for a brainstorming session ............................................. 4 4.2.4. Tools and example ............................................................................................... 5 4.2.5. Resources ............................................................................................................ 8

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"InnoSupport: Supporting Innovation in SMEs"4.2. Brainstorming

4.2.1. Why and how to use Brainstorming

The idea is when can we use brainstorming? Why can we think that a brainstorming session can help us? There are two possibilities: 1. We can carry on the brainstorming sessions in a planned process: for example in a strategy to develop a firm we have already planned brainstorming sessions in regular meetings; 2. We can carry on brainstorming sessions spontaneously, in diverse situation, when we have to make a decision or we need make changes in our activities. For example in a firm, the number of orders is decreasing and the profitability is in danger. So we have to attract more customers, we have to increase the quality of the products and so on. So we need innovative ideas to make some changes, to offer new products, to be more attractive on the market. A brainstorming session will generate a set of creative ideas, the staff of the firm will work together, in a brainstorming session the communication will increase, the people will feel free to express any idea. The main goal of this process is to stimulate the creative thinking. In a brainstorming session people issue as more ideas as possible, without criticism about them. The brainstorming isnt a method to solve a problem, but only a method to generate new ideas which could lead to a solution for a specific problem. The Brainstorming is used in decision making. The decision isnt taken during a brainstorming session, but it is taken using the ideas generated in the brainstorming session.

4.2.2. Where is Brainstorming used?

Brainstorming can be used in every business-area and any situation you think about. Here you area some areas: Management of any type [of a company], Marketing, Advertising. Requirements to run a Brainstorming session 1. 2. 3. 4. a problem (situation) to solve; a group which can be a team (maximum 10 persons). a special place with a large board or paper that can be see by all participants. an expert called facilitator, which can acts as a leader to maintain the order and the focus of the session.

4 basics rules to run a Brainstorming session (provided by Osborn) Osborn provides four basic rules for brainstorming: 1. "Criticism is ruled out. Negative judgments of ideas must be withheld until later. 2. Free-wheeling is welcomed. The wilder the idea, the better it is easier to tame down than to think up. 3. Quantity is wanted. The greater the number of ideas, the more the likelihood of winners. 4. Combination and improvement are sought. In addition to contributing ideas of their own, participants should suggest how ideas of others can be turned into better ideas; or how two or more ideas can be joined into still another idea.

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"InnoSupport: Supporting Innovation in SMEs"4.2. Brainstorming

Tips and tricks - rules to run a session There are simple rules to run a brainstorming session. Identify a clear topic that will be discussed; Encourage generating ideas; Write all ideas so the whole group can see them easily; Dont judge ideas; Any person and any idea are equals in value; Limit the time; Dont discuss on ideas. All discussions will take place after brainstorming is finished. Organise small group of persons (<=10); Encourage creativity. All ideas are welcomed. The brainstorming session need a leader, called facilitator; Build on others peoples ideas; No idea is wrong; Evaluate the ideas in 2 steps: one step is to define criteria to select the good ideas and the next step is to evaluate the ideas with the selected (defined) criteria and write down the results The sessions must end with a plan to implement (apply) the selected ideas generated in the brainstorming sessions.

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"InnoSupport: Supporting Innovation in SMEs"4.2. Brainstorming

4.2.3. Schema and procedure for a brainstorming session

General schema of a brainstorming session

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"InnoSupport: Supporting Innovation in SMEs"4.2. Brainstorming

Procedure for a brainstorming session 1. Select a leader and a recorder of the ideas. It could be the same person. This person is called facilitator and has the following role: o to pose the problem to the group, like a question: What can we do about this problem? or What are your ideas?; o to maintain the discussions of the group focused on the proper topic; o to encourage everyone to say what they think; o to protect the participants from the criticism; o to respect the rules of the brainstorming session; o to respect the limit of time; o to record all ideas; o to summarize the ideas; 2. Define the problem to be brainstormed. Make sure that every participant has understood the topic of the session. The solution of the problem is the objective of the session. The facilitator has to write down the problem on the board. 3. Set up the rules of the session and let every participant to know them. 4. Start the session. The facilitator leads the session. 5. Once the session has finished, the leader has to resume the ideas: eliminate the ideas that are similar or repeated, group the ideas and the concepts; eliminate the ideas that dont fit to the analysed problem. 6. Evaluate the ideas: o write down some criteria (about five) to select which ideas are the best. The criteria should start with the word should, e.g. it should be the minimum cost; o mark each idea with a score for: each criteria. o the idea with the highest mark will be selected to solve the problem. Keep a record of all best ideas and their marks. 7. Inform the group about the remaining ideas and discuss with the group an action plan to implement the solution. If this is difficult do another brainstorming session to make a plan to implement the solution.

4.2.4. Tools and example

Tools used in a brainstorming session Using conceptual maps for ideas generation The conceptual map is a term which describes a visual language. The conceptual maps are represented through labelled nodes (rectangles, circles or ovals) and labelled arcs which interconnect nodes. From the point of view of brainstorming, conceptual maps are non-formal structures. Each person draws concepts and links between concepts. Software tools to hold a brainstorming session. ConceptDraw MINDMAP, Conceptual Map software. Brainstorming forms The forms of brainstorming are: classical brainstorming and advanced brainstorming Classical Brainstorming is the brainstorming until now discussed. Advanced brainstorming is a better brainstorming session which follows the classical rules, but is improved upon by using specialized techniques and tools.

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"InnoSupport: Supporting Innovation in SMEs"4.2. Brainstorming

The modern tools and techniques used in advanced brainstorming are: Brainstorming software tools: brainstorming toolbox, software to generate conceptual maps; Creative thinking techniques: random word technique, random picture technique, False Rules technique, scamper method, analogies, role play, Alexander technique [more info].

Conclusions Brainstorming is not the only method to generate ideas. However, brainstorming is the first and simplest of these methods. To see other methods click here. Example Problem: get new customers for a market. Steps to be followed in organising a brainstorming session:
1. Selection of a facilitator (she/he has to have good communication skills, hold a certain level of authority in the group). 2. The facilitator raise the problem: How can you get new customers? He writes down on a board the problem. 3. Set up the rules of the session: limit time: 20 minutes, anyone can produce any idea about the problem, every participant has to respect the idea of his colleague. 4. The participants at the session start to issue ideas. The scriber draw a map (star form, with all ideas). 5. The facilitator summarises the ideas. 6. Set up the criteria to mark the ideas: 1- cost; 2- should be solved with the actual employers; 3speed of implementation; 4- implementation difficulty. 7. Marking ideas: The score for each criteria is from 1 to 5 .

Criteria no, 1 Criteria no, 2 Criteria no, 3 Criteria no, 4 Average Advertising Advertising Posters Must be continuous Media Newspaper 3 1 4 1 1 1 5 5 5 5 5 5 3,5 3 3,75 3 5 1 1 5 5 5 5 3,5 4

New products


Garden products

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"InnoSupport: Supporting Innovation in SMEs"4.2. Brainstorming

Sports products New payments facilities

3 3

1 5

3 4

3 3

2,5 3,75

Monthly payments Advance 0 First payment after two month Promotional supply Buy a product get a new product with low price Decrease prices

4 1 1

5 5 5

4 1 1

3 2 2

4 2,25 2,25

5 4

5 5

5 5

5 5

5 4,75


8. Inform the group about the idea selected and make an implementation plan. See the picture: the ideas that have been discarded are crossed with a red line.

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"InnoSupport: Supporting Innovation in SMEs"4.2. Brainstorming

4.2.5. Resources
Internet sites http:/ http:/ http:/ http:/

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