Kelley describes seven secrets to the perfect brainstorm in the Art of Innovation. First, Sharpen the focus is a key idea in keeping the mind on the prize. He describes that you need a clear descriptive problem statement because if you don’t know what you’re trying to solve “any road will get you there” and you’ll be at a loss. Also, focus on the customer needs rather than internal organization gains.
Second is to create playful rules. You want an encouraging and open environment that fosters the ideation process. Criticism is allowed but positively and constructively. Take the time in the beginning to write out the rules either collectively with the team or before the team gets there.
Thirdly, number your ideas. Although this may sound simple enough, there are two main benefits of doing so. The first is to create a goal for the team to obtain a certain number of ideas for motivation and the second is to keep track of your ideas. It’s easier to be able to go from one idea to another if they’re numbered.
It is important to not lose the motivation buzz in during a brainstorm session and the author’s fourth thing to keep in mind is a concept called “Build and Jump.” Build is essentially building upon an idea that comes up rather than moving directly into the next category. For example, if someone suggests certain padding at a door entrance to prevent slipping, you may want to ask for other ideas to prevent slipping or how could the slipping occur in order to prevent it. Jump is completely opposite where you switch to a new part of the problem statement or return to an idea that has already been discussed.
The fifth concept of “Space Remembers” is about writing all the ideas down so that the team can see what they’ve come up with already and it also spurs other ideas. Also, as a facilitator, you can take a mental note of which ones to go back to and when you do, our spatial memory allows us to help re-create the feeling that created the idea in the first place.
The sixth thing sums up the idea of stretching the mind before and during brainstorming sessions either through icebreakers (depending on the team) or taking field trips prior to the session.
Finally, the seventh idea is to “Get Physical” talks about three things to help the idea process but two that I liked the most. One is to bring materials to build up the ideas on the spot in order to sense and feel it and the second is to use your body in order to act out how someone will react or behave to a concept or product.