Brainstorming is one of the most popular creative instruments for problem-solving. The simplest method is the unstructured brainstorming. The process is easy. We collect different ideas (tasks) for the validation. The more the number of ideas the more the probability to get the correct or at least the most effective solution.
People believe that if they generate a huge number of ideas they will be able to find the solution to the problem.
Generally speaking, it is correct. However, the question is how to choose the right idea or task.
What is the problem with brainstorming as we know it?
Even though the brainstorming is a well known, easy to understand and easy to execute, process, the only way to find the best option that can really solve the problem is to try them all. This is a very long, ineffective and, as you can imagine, it can become an extremely expensive process.
We could solve this issue by prioritizing the options. But traditionally, the method for prioritizations is to brainstorm again. At that point, participants of the brainstorming session are biased towards their own ideas since this is what they proposed and believe in as the best option.
Choosing the right idea or a task
As part of the PRIZ Innovation Platform, we developed and implemented a concept of Effective Brainstorming (EBS). This process is very similar to the traditional one that we described above, with a slight change of how we prioritize collected options (tasks or ideas).
We can achieve a better and unbiased prioritization results by using relevant creative thinking tools and specifically Round Robin Ranking (RRR). As we described in a number of previous posts, the main concept of RRR is to compare the options in pairs. This way, we can reduce psychological inertia and enable unbiased decision making. Once the ranking is complete, we can start validating the options from the ones with the highest rank. Given our and our clients’ experience, in 90% of cases, the working group will find a solution with the first 3 – 5 options.
One can argue that it is not effective enough as it is not the first, and he will be correct. However, the solution will never be the last option, as it usually happens by Murphy’s Law.
The suggested process will evidently save time and money.
Let’s summarize by example
Imagine yourself that you are working with a group of co-workers on a project trying to solve a problem. Some examples might be:
Troubleshoot equipment or process
Resolve an excursion in manufacturing
Improve yield of a process
Reduce process cost
Make the process faster and more efficient
And so on…
The brainstorming can be performed as follows:
Create a working group of experts in the subject
Facilitate the group to generate ideas/tasks to achieve the desired target. You may do it in different ways:
Invite members into a conference room and generate ideas/tasks as a group
Send a request by email and collect the answers
A project manager as a single person can generate ideas/tasks himself
In the PRIZ Innovation Platform, the brainstorming tool collects the ideas/tasks into the task manager for ranking and management of validation. We can rank all the tasks from within the task manager and the result of ranking will update the priority of your tasks.
Start the validation from the very first task (the one with the highest priority rank).
Brainstorming and be effective as it is easy when you use the right tools.