02 March 2011

Brainstorm 101

Designing Social Change kicked off last night and because of the diversity of backgrounds and experiences, I like to start the course with an exercise where we engage divergent thinking when approaching a problem we want to solve (instead of defaulting to our typical convergent posture). In this case, we sought to re-imagine common objects. Before we look to tackle something more intensive, we want to be sure we have the ability to frame something that is a little less complex. For this class, it was a Ziploc bag, a fork, chopsticks and a bulldog clip.

To facilitate this process, I draw on the resources of IDEO (and the d.school) to help students brainstorm in a new way:

#1 Defer judgment: there are no bad ideas at this point because there's plenty of time to judge after

#2 Encourage wild ideas: it's the wild ideas that often provide the breakthroughs and we can always bring ideas down to earth later, we need new paths for non obvious ideas

#3 Build on the ideas of others: think 'and' rather than 'but'

#4 Stay focused on topic: you get better output if everyone is disciplined

#5 One conversation at a time: that way all ideas can be heard and built upon

#6 Be visual: sometimes a picture really can speak a thousand words

#7 Go for quantity, not quality: set an outrageous goal and surpass it!

We also had a virtual guest! Tim Brown's TED Talk is a lovely way to introduce the ideas of design thinking to a multi-disciplinary team.

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