IDEA Generation and Brain storming

In iGEM on May 16, 2010 at 12:29 pm

One of the first step in generating a project is to generate ideas. One of the best known technique for idea generation is  Brainstorming.

Below you can see excerpts from the very well writen and detailed description of the Wikipedia:

Basic rules:

There are four basic rules in brainstorming. These are intended to reduce social inhibitions among group members, stimulate idea generation, and increase overall creativity of the group.

  1. Focus on quantity.
  2. Withhold criticism. In brainstorming, criticism of ideas generated should be put ‘on hold’. By suspending judgment, participants will feel free to generate unusual ideas.
  3. Welcome unusual ideas. They can be generated by looking from new perspectives and suspending assumptions. These new ways of thinking may provide better solutions.
  4. Combine and improve ideas: Good ideas may be combined to form a single better good idea, as suggested by the slogan “1+1=3”. It is believed to stimulate the building of ideas by a process of association.




Set the problem

Before a brainstorming session, it is critical to define the problem.

Create a background memo

The background memo is the invitation and informational letter for the participants, containing the session name, problem, time, date, and place. The problem is described in the form of a question, and some example ideas are given. The memo is sent to the participants well in advance, so that they can think about the problem beforehand.

Select participants

1. The facilitator

2. Participants:

  • a. core members
  • b. guests from outside the project, with affinity to the problem.

3. One idea collector who records the suggested ideas.


Create a list of lead questions

The facilitator should stimulate creativity by suggesting a lead question to answer, such as Can we combine these ideas? or How about looking from another perspective?. It is best to prepare a list of such leads before the session begins.

Another alternative method that could be used even on-line is the one described as:

“Group passing technique

Each person in a circular group writes down one idea, and then passes the piece of paper to the next person in a clockwise direction, who adds some thoughts. This continues until everybody gets his or her original piece of paper back. By this time, it is likely that the group will have extensively elaborated on each idea.

The group may also create an “Idea Book” and post a distribution list or routing slip to the front of the book. On the first page is a description of the problem. The first person to receive the book lists his or her ideas and then routes the book to the next person on the distribution list. The second person can log new ideas or add to the ideas of the previous person. This continues until the distribution list is exhausted. A follow-up “read out” meeting is then held to discuss the ideas logged in the book. This technique takes longer, but it allows individuals time to think deeply about the problem.”

I think an iGEM group could create these tools for the group on the google group page which the members can access at the group site.

Another very good web site in the topic is JBP.

Have fun!