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7 Tips on Better Brainstorming

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We happen to think idea generation is an art form. It's about setting a safe, creative space for people to feel like they can say anything, be wild, not be judged – so that new ideas can be born.
Traditionally, the group brainstorm is an activity to generate ideas in-person. With OpenIDEO, the community is turning that model on its head by creating a digital space where ideas spark and fly. We're excited to see the Ideas phase turning into this new form of digital brainstorming.
To help you generate better ideas, here's some tips we use in traditional group brainstorming, to set the boundaries of that creative space. The rules for digital brainstorming have yet to be discovered. Based on your experience maybe you can contribute some in the comments!

1. Defer judgment
Creative spaces don't judge. They let the ideas flow, so that people can build on eachother and foster great ideas. You never know where a good idea is going to come from, the key is make everyone feel like they can say the idea on their mind and allow others to build on it. On OpenIDEO, we've made this literally into a Build On This button. Click on it to start your own idea, building on someone elses.
This still means we pose questions and provocations so that the ideas can get to a better place. Take a look at the comments section under each of the Concepts, where we see lots of builds and questions tackling different dimensions of the idea.
2. Encourage wild ideas
Wild ideas can often give rise to creative leaps. In thinking about ideas that are wacky or out there we tend to think about what we really want without the constraints of technology or materials. We can then take those magical possibilities and perhaps invent new technologies to deliver them.
We say embrace the most out-of-the-box notions and build build build...
3. Build on the ideas of others
Being positive and building on the ideas of others take some skill. In conversation, we try to use and instead of but...
On OpenIDEO, you can click the button that says Build on this and then say And... Or leave someone a comment with a new build.
4. Stay focused on the topic
We try to keep the discussion on target, otherwise you can diverge beyond the scope of what we're trying to design for. 

5. One conversation at a time
Of course on OpenIDEO, there's lots of conversations happening at once, which is great! Always think about the challenge topic and how this could apply.

6. Be visual
In live brainstorms we use coloured markers to write on Post-its that are put on a wall. Nothing gets an idea across faster than drawing it. Doesn’t matter how terrible of a sketcher you are! It's all about the idea behind your sketch.
On OpenIDEO, we love seeing photos, sketches, found images for your ideas. You could also try your hand at sketching it out or mocking it up on the computer. We love visual ideas as the images make them memorable.
Does someone elses idea excite you? Maybe make them an image to go with their idea.

7. Go for quantity
Aim for as many new ideas as possible. In a good session, up to 100 ideas are generated in 60 minutes. Crank the ideas out quickly.

Once you've posted an initial idea on OpenIDEO, you can always go back and hit the Update Entry button on your post as you evolve your concept based on all those great conversations you're having.
It's up to you guys to spark and build!
If you've got more tips, especially around how we can improve brainstorming on OpenIDEO,  we'd love to hear them in the comments section below.
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I once had an instructor who used the term "Feedforward" - he used it to keep team members from only providing feedback on what was missing on peoples ideas and from giving vague positive-ish comments. Instead he forced team members to build on the provided ideas and go with the flow by giving "feedforward".

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