Brainstorming is a very simple tool which can be used by anyone almost anywhere with very little preparation.
To do it you need:
- a blackboard, whiteboard or flipchart, or a large sheet of paper;
- someone to write or draw to indicate each different point or suggestion made;
- a facilitator.
First of all the Event or Issue needing attention must be identified (Step 1). Then, at Step 2 the facilitator encourages everyone to talk about anything at all that relates to the issue. These may be thoughts, ideas, past events, customs, images, feelings or other related events. There are no wrong ideas at this step. The writer records them as quickly as possible, while the facilitator encourages people to keep giving suggestions. You can set a time-limit for doing this, or continue until everyone feels satisfied that they have said all they wish to say.
As with all facilitation work, it is important to include and encourage quiet, shy and younger people. However, don’t force them to speak. Equally, people who tend to dominate and keep repeating the same point need to be encouraged to listen and allow others to speak. At the end of a brainstorming exercise the facilitator will need to help the group decide what to do with all their ideas. The group will need to agree on aims and objectives. Some of the other tools may help in this process (such as Tool 2.8, Prioritising).