Brainstorming Ideation

Individual Idea Generation

How might we carry the items in our backpacks more efficiently?

New Warm Up Game


For this activity, I placed a variety of different buttons and pins that I have collected over the years, have fallen off clothing, or somehow have just appeared in my junk drawer as most things seem to into a bag that could not be seen through. I then instructed everyone in our group that we would pass around the bag and each individual would pull out a pin or a button. When each person pulled out a button they then had to tell us an impromptu story about the imaginary person who had once worn or owned the button/pin. They were encouraged to describe things like the item of clothing from which the button came, the person who was wearing the garment, how they were walking, where they were going (if they were going anywhere in particular), what they were thinking, what their interests were, personality traits, etc.

This game seemed to really get people’s creativity flowing because they were forced to use their imaginations and create this person inside of their minds as well as be able to clearly communicate the things that they were thinking to the rest of the group. This activity also created lots of laughs which made people feel more comfortable and reassured them that no idea was a bad idea.

Once everyone around the circle had gone once, I then gave direction to complete a variation on this game- which ended up being a combination of my buttons game and the story telling improv game that we have played several times in this product design class. One person started with the bag full of buttons, pulled one out, came up with one aspect of the imaginary owner of the button’s story and then passed the button to the person on their left who then added yet another aspect to the story. At the very end of the circle everyone had contributed to one funny story and it reassured the idea that they could use one another to build upon their creativity in this brainstorming session.

Session Organization

I hosted my brainstorming session at my home in my living room. I have a circular coffee table and a big blank wall that was the perfect location for posting up ideas as people sketched onto a half piece of standard printer paper and a sharpie. I really wanted to ensure that the setting was laid back allowing people to feel comfortable with what they were doing and who they were with- and therefore ideally produce more ideas. A total of four individuals, not including myself, attended my brainstorming session.

Person 1: Student in the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota

Person 2: Student in College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota

Person 3: High- school student attending school in St. Paul, Minnesota

Person 4: Mid 20’s employee at advertising firm in Minneapolis; graduated from undergraduate education at University of Minnesota 2 years ago.

The brainstorming ideation session lasted for a total of 25 minutes and it was at that point that everyone’s ability to produce new ideas was exhausted.

In total, this brainstorming session produced 65 ideas giving a calculated ideas per minute (ipm) of .52. This is a slightly lower ipm than the ideal range however my brainstorming session was held in the early evening during the week once everyone was completed with classes and work, and in retrospect I would be curious if the time of day I held the brainstorming session made a difference on the amount of ideas that were produced. Everyone at that point in the day was already somewhat tired and warn down from their days at school and work prior to coming to my brainstorming session, being the most likely explanation for the low ipm.

Sorting and Voting

To sort the ideas, I instructed everyone at my brainstorming session on how to effectively complete the silent sorting strategy and after approximately five minutes we had come up with a total of seven categories for the ideas on how we could make carrying the items in a backpack more efficient. One category was adjusting the FORM, one was implementing TECHNOLOGY, one was adding EXTRA FEATURES, one was changing how the backpack was carried and it’s MOBILITY, another was making backpacks DUAL POCKETED, another was making the backpacks EXPANDABLE in some way, and finally the last category dealt with adding features to improve ORGANIZATION WITHIN the backpack and the items that are placed inside of it. Each of these titles were put on a blue post-it note and stuck above each category (pictured below).

The next step was voting on ideas, and to complete this portion of the brainstorming process we used two different color flag post-it notes. Because of the fact that not an extremely large amount of ideas were generated, each person was given three post-its of each color. The green was to be put on ideas that they thought were the most creative, and the orange was to be put on ideas that they thought were the most feasable.

Top Ideas

  1. Back Pod

2. Sliding Drawer Backpack

3. Dual Front/Backpack

4. Drone Backpack

5. Hovering Backpack

6. Expandable Pack

7. Bottom Compartment Pack

8. Side Pocket Pack

9. File Folder Pack

10. Docking Station Pack