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“Everyone is yelling at me for not being creative” moaned the young manager. “ I have given all the ideas I had”. “But what about your team members?” I asked “ Have you asked them for their ideas?”.

“They won’t know about this” he said “Some of them are quite new”.

“That’s all the more reason you should ask them” I said. “Why don’t you try some brainstorming with them?”

The founder of brainstorming, a creative thinking tool, was an advertising manager called Alex Osborn. He coined the phrase when he first used it way back in 1939. 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.”

People sometimes hesitate to give ideas when asked. They are hesitant as to how the idea would be accepted. Others cannot think of ideas without some sort of platform or trigger from some other idea. Yet others do not feel free to think beyond conventional lines.
“It is easier to tone down a wild idea than to think up a new one.” said Osborn. His solution was to think up as many ideas as possible regardless of how ridiculous they may seem at first.

Encourage ideas from others however radical” is what we urge. Since it is very unlikely to think up the perfect solution the first time, Osborn recommends getting every idea out of your head and then go back to examine them afterwards. An idea that may have initially sounded off-the-wall may actually turn out to be a plausible idea with some modification. The technique of deferred judgment increases the individual’s synthesis capabilities by releasing the human mind from the analysis mode of thinking. Brainstorming is a group method of listing suggested ideas pertaining to a solution for a specific problem.

Withhold judgement on every idea” is central to brain storming. Don’t say “ But that won’t work” as soon as an idea comes in. Creativity is encouraged by not allowing ideas to be evaluated or discussed until everyone has run dry. Any and all ideas are accepted. Often the most far-fetched are the most fertile. Structured brainstorming produces many creative ideas to solve problems. With the right kind of facilitation, it taps the human brain’s capacity for lateral thinking and free association.

Other rules for brainstorming : create an environment where team members are not criticized for their ideas. Ideas can be evaluated after the brainstorming session but judgments during the process will only alienate team members. Lastly, after the idea generating process team members should try to combine and modify ideas.

The young manager was astonished by the number and quality of ideas he got from his team. They were always there. It’s just that he hadn’t looked for them!

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