Should you do Brainstorm session?

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

Why some consider brainstorm ineffective and when the brainstorm can be appropriate?

Brainstorming = Idea generation, aka = Ideation. While for some, is a derogatory term implying a waste of time.

Brainstorming is the most well-known tools for creative problem solving, proposed by Osborn in 1953 in his book “Applied Imagination”. Since then over 50 studies conducted to check whether brainstorm is effective in generating ideas.

Yale study in 1958, specifically has started a long debate whether brainstorm yields more creative ideas than solo-ideation.

The truth is… in the middle.

Group brainstorming was suggested, by Osborn, as a supplement to individual ideation, not a replacement.

(Read a review of Brainstorming Research)

There are essential 4 guidelines, proposed by Osborn ,to follow, in order to lead effective brainstorm session:

  • Criticism is ruled out
  • Freewheeling is welcomed
  • Quantity is wanted
  • Combination and improvement are sought

Refer to modern version of brainstorm rules from OpenIDEO design kit

It’s critical to frame a clear challenge/question that group will brainstorm against. Read on How Might We design challenge

So, Brainstorm can be effective, if a facilitator knows how to conduct the brainstorm session and presents a clear challenge/question to the group.


For my side project, I have involved early evangelists for Ideation sessions.

Some of the wild ideas from group ideation were:

  • Celebrate PPD (postpartum depression)with parties
  • PTA: moms to talk to daughters in school
  • Make PPD help as easy as getting a marijuana prescription _> PPD referrals at pot dispensers
  • Starbucks cups: PPD factoids

After the sessions, I have collected/grouped the ideas, as well as, supplemented with ideas from solo-ideation sessions.

As a result, we had 21 ideas and voted with my design team for 2 ideas for prototyping: 1 product idea and 1 service idea.

Both of these ideas were born during solo ideation…

Nevertheless, the brainstorm sessions were an excellent marketing event to raise brand awareness and recruit more earlyevangelists for future prototype testing.


Read next post where I will share how we have started prototyping of product and services ideas.

This is a post from series #productdesign where I practice product design and customer development.

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