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How to brainstorm effectively and summarize results【Excel Template】

How to brainstorm effectively and summarize results【Excel Template】
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How to brainstorm effectively and su...

This article is about how to brainstorm effectively and summarize the generated results. You can have successful brainstorming by practicing the 4 Guidelines in this article. It also introduces Osborne’s checklist that expand the generated ideas.

(Duration: 6:41)

DOWNLOAD  ← Click this to download the “Brainstorming” template file.

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Brainstorming is a meeting method to create new ideas.

Hi, this is Mike Negami, Lean Sigma Black Belt.

I received this request.

Template Video Request

“Do you have a template for brainstorming?”

Thank you, Borut for your request. As he requested, I made a brainstorming template. The image below is the template’s entire image.

(Click the image to enlarge it.)

Brainstorming Template Entire Image

You would use brainstorming in meetings, but there are several types of meetings depending on their purposes such as a reporting meeting, decision-making meeting, problem-finding meeting and new-idea-creating meeting. Brainstorming will be used in the last one, new-idea-creating meetings.

This doesn’t mean just sharing opinions. If that’s the case, just ask people to send in their opinions by e-mail. In brainstorming, everyone bounces ideas off each other and generates whole new ideas.

How to use the Brainstorming template

Simple instructions are on this right side the brainstorming template I made.

Template's Instructions

1) Decide the meeting agendas and inform all participants about them in advance. By doing this, participants can consider and prepare their opinions in advance, and bring supporting materials to the meeting if necessary. This is quite effective, but this seems to not be utilized well.

2) Write the agendas in the agenda box and print copies of this template for the number of participants.

Guidelines During Brainstorming

3) Hand the print-out to each participant and confirm the guidelines in the template (See the image above.) with all the participants. The chairman may read this out loud, or all participants may read the guidelines themselves. If the guidelines were used as ground rules and all participants practiced the ground rules, you can get better results with brainstorming.

The 4 Guidelines that lead you to successful brainstorming

The first guideline is “Prioritize quantity over quality.”  I made a book review video about “A Technique for Producing Ideas” earlier. The author James Young tells us that “An idea is nothing more nor less than a new combination of old elements.”

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The more old ideas you have, the more new ideas you can gain. Therefore, in brainstorming we should “Prioritize quantity over quality.” Alex Osborne, who I’ll talk more about later, also says “Quantity will breed quality”.

The next one is “Don’t criticize other people’s opinion.” When we are criticized, it’s hard to continue talking and it represses our creativity. Especially in this stage, everyone should understand that we aren’t thinking much about feasibility.

The 3rd one is “Ask for more explanation”. Not only “don’t criticize” but also go one step further, ask the speaker to talk more. Contrary to the previous guideline, when people are interested in our opinion, we are glad and can be more creative.

The last guideline is “Expand the generated ideas”. Combine ideas with other ideas and modify them to create a new idea.

Osborne’s Checklist that expand the generated ideas

Do you know Osborne’s Checklist? Alex Osborne, who I mentioned earlier, is an American in the advertising industry and it’s said that he is the creator of brainstorming. He made a nine-item checklist that develops ideas.

The checklist is listed in this template. Hints to generate new ideas are written in each square. Use those hints and write your new ideas.  Let’s look at those hints one by one.

“Other uses: Are there any other ways to use it, as is or modified?”  “Adapt: What happens if you apply something from other ideas to it? Have similar ideas been used elsewhere or in the past?”, “Modify: What if you change something? Change the purpose, color, motion, odor, taste, form, shape, etc.?”

Osborne's checklist 2

“Magnify: What about adding more time, frequency, height, length, strength, thickness, weight, something different, duplicating, exaggerating?”  “Minify: What about subtracting something, making it smaller, lower, shorter, lighter, dividing or breaking it?”  “Substitute: What about changing materials, processing methods, place, tone of voice, or people?”

Osborne's checklist 3

“Rearrange: What about interchanging parts, patterns, flows, layouts, pace and schedules, or switching the cause and effect?”  “Reverse: What about adjusting it to the opposite, backwards, reverse roles, upside down, inside-out, turning tables, transpose a + / – ?”  “Combine: What about combining and blending units, purposes, merits and ideas?

How to summarize your brainstorming results

After creating many new ideas with this method, what should we do next? We have to narrow them down to practical usage.  I introduced another template for that in an earlier video. The 5-Why and 5-How analysis template.

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You can classify all the ideas and connect them to causal relationships on the Ishikawa diagram to narrow them down to the best practical idea very easily. For more information, please click on the link above and watch this video.

Today we’ve learned how to conduct effective brainstorming and get the best practical ideas.

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