Statement: How might we minimize seasonal depression?


I read each of these aloud before the brainstorming session began and also posted it onto the bulletin wall for all team members to see.


What’s behind your back??

I developed a new improv warm up game that goes like this:

  1. All participants circle up and pretend to be hiding something behind their back.
  2. Someone points to a subject in the circle and asks, “What are you hiding behind your back??”
  3. The person who has been selected to answer the question must state, “I have a ____ behind my back”. The ___ can literally be anything in the world.
  4. The next person in the circle counter-clockwise then has to shout out another word for that ___ , or something that is very closely associated to it, in the form of, “Show me the ___!” Each person in the circle comes up with a new synonym or similar association until it reaches the first person.
  5. The cycle continues until each person has started the round at least once.


Wall of all pinned up ideas sketched onto notecards over the span of approx. 30 minutes
Brainstorming dream team

Participants: My brainstorming team consisted of 5 individuals, all students of the University of Minnesota. From left to right:

M.H. : Political Science major of the College of Liberal Arts

S.C. : Neuroscience major of the College of Education and Human Development. Studying in a health field.

J.A. : Yoga instructor and Kinesiology major of the College of Education and Human Development. Studying in a health field.

J.W.: Architecture major of the College of Design.

J.R.: Marketing and Management Information Systems double major of the Carlson School of Management.

Including myself, we had representatives from four different colleges from the U and six different majors to create a diverse melting pot of ideas. Each person’s subtle biases came through in some of the ideas that they constructed. For example, the architecture major had a lot of ideas to do with walls and large scale installations such as a geo-thermal playground.

Materials: I placed two large stacks of notecards in the center of the table for idea sketching. I then provided each participant with a different colored sharpie, so that all of their ideas would be distinguishable from a distance.

Setting: Rapson Hall Courtyard. Table next to a cork wall.

Warm-Up Games (in order): Zip Zap Zop, Word Ball, Random Word Ball, Look at Me, What’s Behind Your Back? (My new game)

Length of time: 30 minutes

Total Number of Ideas: 109

IPM: .73 ideas per minute per person

Supplements: At 5 or 10 minute intervals, I introduced a new “creativity supplement. At 10 minutes, the participants were given chocolate candies with almonds in them. At 15 minutes, they were given the opportunity to rolestorm. At 20 minutes, they were given the option to brute think with random words. At 25 minutes, they were given the option to come up with ideas with problem reversal by using negative brainstorming. I pushed for a few really strong ideas in the last 5 minutes of brainstorming.


After approx. 30 minutes of brainstorming, I led the group in silent categorizing. Absolutely no words could be spoken as we separated our ideas into 7 distinct categories:

Light, Food, Animals, Architecture, Sense of Smell, Clothing, Virtual Reality

After categorizing into 7 groups, I provided each participant with a black pen or marker and directed them to choose 5 of their favorites and mark them with a tally. After this process, I grouped all of the notecards with at least one vote, and asked if anybody wanted to argue for any that did not get a vote. A few more were added to the “final group” and I was able to select my top 10 best ideas in terms of novelty, feasibility, and practicality.


Credit: J.W.
Credit: J.W.
Credit: JW
Credit: JW
Credit: M.H.
Credit: M.H.
Credit: J.W.
Credit: M.H.
Credit: M.H.
Credit: J.R.
Credit: J.R.