Brainstorming is a group creativity technique by which a group tries to find a solution for a specific problem by gathering a list of ideas spontaneously contributed by its members. The term was popularized by Alex Faickney Osborn in 1953 through the book Applied Imagination. In the book, Osborn not only proposed the brainstorming method but also established effective rules for hosting brainstorming sessions.
Brainstorming has become a popular group technique and has aroused attention in academia. Multiple studies have been conducted to test Osborn’s postulation that brainstorming is more effective than individuals working alone in generating ideas . Some researchers have concluded that the statement is false (brainstorming is not effective), while others uncovered flaws in the research and determined that the results are inconclusive. Furthermore, researchers have made modifications or proposed variations of brainstorming in an attempt to improve the productivity of brainstorming. However, there is no empirical evidence to indicate that any variation is more effective than the original technique.
Focus on quantity:
This rule is a means of enhancing divergent production, aiming to facilitate problem solving through the maxim quantity breeds quality. The assumption is that the greater the number of ideas generated, the greater the chance of producing a radical and effective solution.
In brainstorming, criticism of ideas generated should be put 'on hold'. Instead, participants should focus on extending or adding to ideas, reserving criticism for a later 'critical stage' of the process. By suspending judgment, participants will feel free to generate unusual ideas.
Welcome unusual ideas:
To get a good and long list of ideas, unusual ideas are welcomed. They can be generated by looking from new perspectives and suspending assumptions. These new ways of thinking may provide better solutions.
Combine and improve ideas:
Good ideas may be combined to form a single better good idea, as suggested by the slogan "1+1=3". It is believed to stimulate the building of ideas by a process of association.