ProcessMA Resource


 

 

Brainstorming

Brainstorming is a team-centered process used to generate a large volume of new ideas in a short span of time. With proper facilitation, brainstorming can stimulate the creative thinking process and help the group generate a range of possibilities. Brainstorming technique is not llimited to the Improve phase, it can also be use to identify possible causes, project risks and barriers, etc.

Guidelines

In brainstorming for process improvement situations, some of the general guidelines for generating ideas include:

  1. Simplification
  2. Straight-line processing
  3. Parallel processing
  4. Alternative paths
  5. Bottleneck management
  6. Front-loaded decision making
  7. Standardised decision options
  8. Single point of contact or multiple contacts

Ground Rules

Before the start of a brainstorming session, it is important to set up and communicate the ground rules. This is to ensure the group stays focused on the objective and gets most out of the session. Some of the general good practices include:

  1. No idea is a bad idea, record them first.
  2. No justification required, present your idea first.
  3. Reserve criticisms and judgment.
  4. Keep the session moving, pass if you have no idea.

Methods

There are several methods to execute a brainstorming session. An appropriate method should be selected based on the situation and the dynamics of the group. Several methods can also be used in combination to achieve the best results.

  1. Structured: Give everyone an opportunity to contribute by soliciting ideas in a structured method around the room.
  2. Unstructured: A free flowing method of getting ideas from anyone that has them. Just shout them out in random order.
  3. Brain writing: Each member writes their ideas on a card and posts them on the board. The members then choose a card of their choice and build on the idea written on the car.
  4. Idea writing: The group is first seated in a circle and they each write down a question or suggestion to the problem on a card. The cards are passed around in a circle and members comments or answers the question or suggestion written on the card.

Wrapping up

When sufficient ideas are generated, the group should go through all the ideas to clarify and check what each idea means. The ideas should be well structured to ensure common understanding and that everyone has clarity around the tasks to be performed. The following shows examples of a well structured idea and poor written idea.

  1. Good: To ensure the simplification of data input and the elimination of input defects currently experienced, we will have to provide the customer with an application form that captures only the mandatory information on a single page.
  2. Poor: Simplify the application form.
  3. Brain writing: Each member writes their ideas on a card and posts them on the board. The members then choose a card of their choice and build on the idea written on the car.
  4. Idea writing: The group is first seated in a circle and they each write down a question or suggestion to the problem on a card. The cards are passed around in a circle and members comments or answers the question or suggestion written on the card.

During the process, similar ideas and ‘out of scope’ ideas should be set aside. An idea is considered ‘out-of-scope’ if it does not address the root causes identified in the Analyse phase or fall out of the scope of the project set forth in the project charter. This is important so that the team do not stray off on implementing ‘good-to-have’ solutions that does not address the root cause.