Blue Sky Ideation


As defined by Osborn, brainstorming is “using the brain to storm an a problem”. It is evident in through research that more the ideas generated by a group, more the number of unique ideas that are possibly derived from the process. This has also been established by the research paper by Kudrowitz and Wallace in 2010 which reiterates on the importance of the number of ideas that are generated are important and the first few ideas that people are going to be getting. However, from the brainstorming experience it was evident as to why there are some very polar opinions by renowned researchers talking about the disadvantages of group idea generation.

Quoting Mullen,Salas and Johnson from their paper ‘Why Groups are Less Effective than their Members’

“The quantitative productivity loss engendered by brainstorming groups is not trivially small, also quantitative productivity loss is not compensated by an increase in the quality of productivity in brain storming groups.”

Agreed that brainstorming does have its own advantages of building on each others ideas, leveraging each other experience and also coming up with solutions that make the best use of peoples individual expertise, it still does pose a threat to the quality if the teams are not prepped well. From my experience of conducting a brainstorming session it is clearly evident that the quality of the sessions is only as good as the environment, the people participating in the session and their mindset. At certain times, I did resort to the opinion that a huge chunk of time is being spent on people not coming up with good ideas at all. Also the Motivation Losses and Coordination Losses which comprise of free riding, production matching, evaluation apprehension and mutual production blocking were all very common problems seen in the process. There were instances where people just paused from doing the activity when a candidate came up with a very good idea and there were also instances where candidates were just hesitant to share ideas fearing they will be judged.

In conclusion a group brainstorming session does depend on a lot of parameters. Right from choosing the right set of people, to the facilitator being equipped to handle the situation when it goes off track and the perfect environment for idea generation.

Individual Idea Generation

The idea generation process was started off by framing a ‘How might we statement’.

How might we organize desk top spaces to make them more efficient and easy to use.

New Warm-Up Game

The new warm up game involved combining certain games I used to play as a kid with my friends. It was musical chairs with a twist. The usual game involves running around the chairs as long as the music is on and sit down in the chair in front of them. Unlike the original game, we had a chair for everyone. However, we did have a small shift in the game. Instead of just sitting down, they had to sit down and write the first person they can think of when a particular theme was given. For example, the theme was Marvel, the candidates wrote down their favorite Marvel character. The person next to them had to enact like the character written in the sheet.

We then went on to doing a funny game called Bunny Bunny Toki Toki. This was exactly the red ball activity, however, instead of saying ‘Red Ball’ to throw and receive the ball, we had to say Bunny Bunny to the person we were looking at and to receive the person had to tell Toki Toki. People though they felt uncomfortable, did have a very good laugh.

Session Organization

The 3 people chosen for this activity were Krithika, Josh and Evan. Krithika is a PhD student studying at the U. Josh is a junior and Evan is a high school student. This variety was chosen to approach the topic through a diverse educational background to compare the perspectives of someone who is still in high school and someone who has completed 7 years college education.

Before starting off the brainstorming activity we did the alternative uses activity and acting them out. When prompted for another activity, I sensed there were some disinterest so I skipped it.

During the sorting process, whenever there were times when people were out of ideas, I shared the ideas I had prepared before. The discussion was carried out for 30 minutes before moving on to the sorting process. The activity was performed in one of the lab meeting room spaces in a department I intern in.

Brainstorming ideas

A total of 45 ideas were generated in 30 minutes averaging at around 0.5 ideas per minute.

Sorting and Voting

Voting and Sorting Process

The sorting of the ideas was done in the quite method as suggested in the class where people were asked to not talk among each other and try sorting into groups which they deemed fit. After doing the sorting activity, the candidates were asked to come up with a name of the classification for the theme in which they organized the post its in. After coming up with the theme names, they went on to vote which ideas were the best.

The voting was done in two categories. Red votes for unique and innovative solutions and blue for feasible designs.

The categories that were classified were based on the genre and how they can be employed. A wide category was electronic gadgets followed by organizers for stationery on top of the desk. Customize-able storage spaces on the desks and the periphery were a huge trend as well.

Top Ideas


Thursday 19 — Reading through literature study.

Friday 20- Working on Individual Ideas

Saturday 21- Group activity and segregating data

Sunday 22- Work on blog

Monday & Tuesday — Buffer