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    • Science
    • Brainstorming

    • Brainstorming is an organized process for generating a list of ideas about an issue or process. Brainstorming sessions may take several hours. These sessions are used to:

      • Identify all issues
      • Understand and clarify a process
      • Generate potential solutions or action plans
      • Collect data

      Major Steps of Effective Brainstorming:

      1. Explain the subject of the brainstorming session to the team. Consider distributing the topic in advance to give participants a chance to start thinking prior to the meeting. If sharing the idea for the first time during the meeting, allow two to three minutes of thinking time before beginning the discussion.
      2. Set a time limit. Depending on the complexity of the issue, brainstorming can take one to four hours; however, it is not unusual to have several consecutive brainstorming topics or exercises during a quality improvement project.
      3. Identify a note taker. List the ideas on a flip chart, or have people write their ideas on index cards or post-it notes.
      4. Participants call out one idea at a time. This can be handled in a structured manner by going around the table, or at random, favoring greater creativity. Another option is to go around the table once, and then open the discussion to everyone to call out additional ideas. Keep the team moving forward when ideas slow down. If a participant does not have an idea that comes quickly, they can pass. There should be no discussion or criticism during this session; the goal is to identify all of the ideas and issues. Evaluation of the ideas, issues and plans will come later in the process.
      5. Build and expand on ideas. Encourage fresh thinking and creativity. Use the rule that there are no bad ideas. Refrain from historical references to ideas that might have been tried in the past.
      6. Eliminate duplicates. If a large number of ideas has been generated, have the team organize them into thematic clusters to facilitate further review.
      7. Set priorities and achieve consensus. Brainstorming effectively identifies items of significance and helps to put items in rank order. It is an effective tool as part of a multivoting or prioritization matrix methodology.