Mind Mapping & Creative Thinking

March 25, 2009

Brainstorming ~ ‘Thought Showers!’

“It is easier to tone down a wild idea than to think up a new one.”- Alex Osborne

I did not know that Alex Osborne, or anyone else for that matter actually invented brainstorming! But I do now!

That quote really sums up Osborne’s ideas on brainstorming and creative thinking.

Brainstorming is method of thinking up solutions, ideas or new concepts. Brainstorming is NOT the same as Mind Mapping.

Brainstorming is:

  • Problem solving
  • Project Management
  • Team Building
  • Idea Generation
  • Creative Training
  • Improve Initiative
  • Improve Creative Thinking
  • Improve Morale
  • Fun!

However it can be  difficult process for many reasons: sometimes people are unwilling to suggest a solution for fear of criticism or the problem may just be a very difficult one, and one that no existing solutions exist for yet.

Osborne  suggested by the above quote, that to think up as many ideas as possible regardless of how ridiculous they may seem at first. Since it is very unlikely to think up the perfect solution at the first sitting, he recommends getting every idea out of your head and then go back to examine them afterwards (this why I feel that reflection time is so important). An idea that may have initially sounded off-the-wall may actually turn out to be a plausible idea with a little modification.

Osborne’s technique of deferral increases the individual’s synthesis capabilities by releasing the human mind from the analysis mode of thinking. This is very similar to the processes of Mind Mapping.  Brainstorming is considered to be a group method of listing suggested ideas to craete a solution for a specific identified problem.

Creative thinking requires tools such as a visual map or diagram, often known as a spider diagram. Brainstorming is simply collecting all ideas put together by a group in response to a given problem or question.

In 1939, a team led by advertising executive Alex Osborn coined the term brainstorm.  According to Osborn, Brainstorm means using the brain to storm a  problem and to do so ” in commando fashion, each stormer audaciously attacking the same objective.”

Creativity is encouraged by not allowing ideas to be evaluated or discussed until everyone has run dry. Any and all ideas are considered legitimate and often the most far-fetched are the most fertile. Structured brainstorming produces numerous creative ideas about any given “central question”. Done right, it taps the human brain’s capacity for lateral thinking and free association.

Other rules for brainstorming according to Osborne include creating an environment where team members are not criticized for their ideas. Ideas can be evaluated after the brainstorming session but judgments during the process will only alienate team members. Also, after the idea generating process team members should try to combine and modify ideas.

In  recent years it has been decided by some (maybe while brainstorming the problem) that the word brainstorming is not politically correct, the new ‘correct term’ is thought shower. I make no further comment!

Ideas for this post were taken from SKYMARK and their copy is acknowledged.

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