Essay by aGoGoUniversity, Bachelor'sB, May 2005

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Brainstorming is a method for developing creative solutions to problems. It works by focusing on a problem, and then deliberately coming up with as many deliberately unusual solutions as possible and by pushing the ideas as far as possible.

One approach to brainstorming is to 'seed' the session with a word pulled randomly from a dictionary. This word will be as a starting point in the process of generating ideas.

During the brainstorming session there is no criticism of ideas - the idea is to open up as many possibilities as possible, and break down preconceptions about the limits of the problem.

Once this has been done the results of the brainstorming session can be analyzed and the best solutions can be explored either using further brainstorming or more conventional solutions.


Birth of brainstorming

In the 1930s Alex Osborn, an agency advertising executive in New York, found that conventional business meetings were inhibiting the creation of new ideas and proposed some rules designed to help stimulate them.

He was looking for rules, which would give people the freedom of mind and action to spark off and reveal new ideas.

To "think up" was originally the term he used to describe the process he developed, and that in turn came to be known as "brainstorming". He described brainstorming as "a conference technique by which a group attempts to find a solution for a specific problem by amassing all the ideas spontaneously by its members". The rules he came up with are the following:

No criticism of ideas

Go for large quantities of ideas

Build on each others ideas

Encourage wild and exaggerated ideas

He found that when these rules were followed, a lot more ideas were created and that a greater quantity of original ideas gave rise to...