The Iterative Design Process

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Reading Critiques

Zach Sadler 17:03:01 1/9/2014

Like the author suggests, I initially rolled my eyes when I read that the topic of this paper was brainstorming. Next, I began to become a little skeptical that the article would be too business-focused and not applicable to software development. However, I agree with many of his points. Certainly it makes sense to have a well articulated question to begin the brainstorm, as well as to have loose rules about the discussion format. The 'build and jump' section was actually pretty useful, and seems like a great way to keep momentum going during a brainstorm. The idea of covering the entire room with paper and being able to write all over the walls and tables seems like a fantastic idea, although very impractical for us to do in this class. The last piece of advice seems completely irrelevant to our brainstorming sessions we'll do in class, since we probably won't build physical models of our software. The last section on six ways to kill a brainstorm all seem like good ideas as well, especially that brainstorms should be free-flowing, not serious, and that they should not be the same as a typical meeting.

MJ (Letera) 17:05:06 1/9/2014

“The Perfect Brainstorm” makes an argument for the use of regular brainstorming in businesses and provides some tips for optimizing this experience. One of the suggestions made for improving productivity in a brainstorm session is to have the “brainstormers” warm-up before beginning. The idea is that the mind can be more flexible if some basic exercises are done ahead of time. Another suggestion is to provide visual feedback during the brainstorm. This can be done with pen and paper or a dry-erase board, or with more elaborate 3D objects that can be used to model prototypes. There are also a few suggestions for what NOT to do. The writer warns against having the boss speak first, as he or she may set a precedent that will hinder the creativity process for their subordinates. He also warns not to try to write every detail down, as this type of activity utilizes a part of the brain that can interfere with the creative process.

Robert McDermot 13:33:07 1/11/2014

This article described the idea of brainstorming as it applies to group projects. It makes the case that giving all of the team members a chance to build off of each others ideas produces more varied and creative solutions to the problem at hand. I have of course heard of the concept of brainstorming before, but this article gave me a good idea of the details behind both a successful brainstorming session as well as an unsuccessful one. Before reading of this man's experiences, I probably would have thought 100 ideas in one hour would really be stretching it. One thing I did not like about the article was how, especially towards the end, it started to sound like a sales pitch. It came off as though this guy was marketing himself to come to your company and put on a "show". It just felt as though somewhere towards the end of the article the tone changed slightly. But overall I would say that there are enough good concrete ideas here to make it worth the read.

Sara Provost (stp28) 17:37:16 1/11/2014

According to the reading for this week, brainstorming is a skill that is by more than 70% of people, however 76% say that they brainstorm less than once a month. A brainstorming session is a meeting in which new ideas are generated. In order for these meetings to be successful, they must not be treated like a normal meeting, or in other words no notes are taken and there is no clear speaking order. These sessions also must have a clear goal or problem in order to be successful. There should not be critiques or debates of ideas during this session. The ideas formed during these sessions should be numbered so that they can be easily navigated. All ideas generated should be written down in some sort of visual aid that is easily viewed by the entire group. Warm ups can be helpful to the brainstorming group if they have not worked together before, if they do not brainstorm frequently, and if they seem distracted. Good warm ups can be things as simple as clearing the mind and word games to things as specific as content related homework. Good brainstorms are very visual and physical. Good brainstorms can generate hundreds of ideas, of which only ten or so will actually be viable. Brainstorms are also good for generating healthy competition and allowing everyone to have an input. However, they also can fall victim to negativity through pushing the group too hard and being overly critical of failing members. Despite the resiliency and flexibility of brainstorms, there are ways to kill the brainstorm before it even begins. Firstly if the boss is allowed to speak first, he or she could monopolize the meeting with his or her ideas. Secondly, if the meeting allows for input from every member, and not only the ones who have ideas. Thirdly, if only experts from one field are invited. Fourthly, if the brainstorm is done offsite as this can provide distractions. Fifthly, the brainstorm may die if silly and outrageous ideas are allowed. Finally it is possible for a brainstorm to die if every single idea is written down.

Xiaoxuan Chen 19:08:17 1/11/2014

This article talked about the importance of brainstorming and how to better brainstorm in order to deliver more value, create more energy, and foster more innovation. One way is to brainstorm more often. Usually "brainstormers" should be around an hour or so. A good one can infect a team with optimism and a sense of opportunity. Ways for a good "brainstormer" is to stick to one conversation at a time, and build on the ideas of others. But to have a great one, the article gave seven tips. 1) Sharpen the focus. Give a well-honed statement of the problem; make it tangible without limiting possible solutions. The best topic statements focus outward on customer needs rather than inward organizational goal. 2) Playful rules. Don't start to critique or debate ideas. 3) Number your ideas. 4) Build and jump. The facilitators should know when to build on an idea by encouraging another push or introducing a small variation and when to move on to the previous or a completely new approach. 5) The space remembers. Write the flow of ideas down in a medium visible to the whole group for them to see their progression. 6) Stretch your mental muscles. When the group has not worked together before, or most of the group doesn't brainstorm frequently, or the group seems distracted by pressing but unrelated issues, group warm-up is useful. Warm-ups could be like fast-paced word game or content-related homework. 7) Get physical. Two ways, one to brings competitive products, elegant solutions from other fields and promising technologies that could be applied to the problem. Second, have materials on hand to build crude models of a concept. The article also mentioned six ways that could kill a brainstormer which we should watch out for. 1) Boss gets to speak first. This could limited the brainstormer. 2) Everybody gets a turn. 3) Experts only please. 4) Do it off-site. This can be counterproductive. 5) No silly stuff. 6) Write down everything. From this article, I learned a lot about brainstorming and it's techniques, and realized that a great brainstormer is fun and productive if we do it right.

Nicholas Amoscato 12:39:27 1/12/2014

In a chapter of his book The Art of Innovation entitled “The Perfect Brainstorm,” IDEO general manager Tom Kelley discusses what makes “brainstormers” so effective at the global design firm. Unlike most common misconceptions, Kelley defines brainstorming as a skill that can be learned just as one can learn how to play piano or tie shoes. At IDEO, brainstormers are frequent stretching exercises for the mind that are not regular meetings and last no more than an hour. Kelley then goes on to list seven secrets for better brainstorming: (1) sharpen the focus by articulating the description of the problem; (2) adhere to playful rules by being considerate but constructive in critiques and having fun; (3) number your ideas which will in turn motivate participants and provide a useful reference point; (4) build and jump – that is, keep the energy up by either pushing a small variation (building) or jump back to an earlier path or forward to a completely new one; (5) the space remembers – that is, write down ideas so that they will be accessible to the whole group, and don’t erase ideas; (6) stretch your mental muscles by engaging the group in a warm-up such as a exposing them to a collection of related “show-and-tell” objects; and (7) get physical by not only drawing visual diagrams, but making use of physical products, crude models or acting out skits. Kelley also lists six ways in which a brainstormer can be “killed”. The following items should be avoided: (1) the boss gets to speak first, (2) everybody gets a turn – as in you go around the table and everyone gets a predefined period of time to talk, (3) limit brainstormers to only experts; (4) do it off-site – in effect, creativity will not be directly associated with the office, (5) no silly stuff – prevents the team from realizing they can have fun while trying to solve problems, (6) write down everything. Overall, I think Kelley provides some solid suggestions for group brainstorming; however, in order to develop one’s individual skill to think creatively, I think that this brainstorming mentality should be constant. As the quote at the beginning of this chapter states, “The best way to get a good idea is to get a lot of ideas,” and the only way to get a lot of ideas, is to always be thinking about them. A little over a year ago, I read an article ( by writer Steven Johnson. In the article, Johnson describes “The Spark File”, a one page document in which he simply jots down fragments of ideas that he revisits at a later date. Although I have not religiously contributed to my Spark File that I started a year ago, I do believe that it is advantageous and look forward to maintaining this mental notebook in the future.

Steven Bauer 18:22:49 1/12/2014

Todays reading was on why and how to successfully brainstorm. After describing why it is important to brainstorm often the author goes on to tell us that it is important to have a specific problem in mind such that you and your group doesn't get far off course. The next suggestion is not to shoot down ideas and to encourage wild ideas. This is a problem I often struggle with myself, I am too quick to dismiss ideas or solutions that initially sound impossible or very grand in nature. He continues to give several other tips toward a successful brainstorming session before going on to discuss the "brainstormer effect" which is that after such a session your team will be energized and the creative ideas will continue to flow throughout the remainder of the project. The next part of the article is what I feel is most important, the author tells us what NOT to do in a session. In my personal experience with brainstorming with a group I have seen these problems and the author is right to address them. Everyone being forced to take a turn as discussed in this section is a terrible idea and makes people come up with useless ideas just to get by rather than taking the time they need to come up with something that would actually be useful and assist the group. This was an interesting article and I think it has an important message, working with a group requires these sessions to take place and if not handled correctly these sessions can be a complete waste of time and only cause confusion and annoy group members.

Alex Stiegel 18:39:09 1/12/2014

Brainstorming is very useful and this reading does a really good job of explaining that. It gives a lot of neat ideas to make brainstorming sessions more interesting. I like the idea of having a bunch of stuff to look at and play with while trying to solve problems. It might be a bit distracting to some people, but visually it would be helpful. Writing things down and numbering them was also a really good suggestion. Sometimes when you plan on writing down all your ideas, you give up and then don't have a real list. Taking turns writing stuff down was also suggested and is probably the best way to keep up with writing stuff down. The reading does come off really weird itself though. It's really annoying to keep reading the word brainstormer. They also suggested that one test is proof enough that their idea worked... Which is mostly just a laugh. I could believe that going to a toy store as homework might be helpful, but I also believe half of them would have forgotten to do it in the first place. I think I do a pretty good job of brainstorming all the time at my job. We get together and try to solve weekly problems. It's really good practice, but some of these techniques would be interesting to try.

Guh6 (Guoyang Huang) 19:47:05 1/12/2014

The article has taught me a lot of new information regarding brainstorming that I had never realize before. Firstly, brainstorming is an art form or a skill that takes a lot of time to get a hang of and they’re emphasized in the seven secrets for better brainstorming. I’ve learned that one should start a brainstorming session with a statement that is not narrow-minded towards a particular solution because that will stymie other approaches. For secretes numbered 2 and 3, I’ve learned that one should draw or sketch the ideas so others can visualize it. For 6 and 7, I’ve learned that the better way to start a brainstorming session is to do a warm-up and sometimes that requires show-and-tell with tangible items. The article also described ways to avoid creating a negative brainstorming session. I’ve learned that surprisingly, a brainstorming session can create up to a hundred different ideas and to be an innovated company. From the “Six ways to kill a brainstormer”, the first thing I’ve learned is that the boss should not start off the session because he/she might limit the ideas because of favoring practical ideas over wild ideas. Second, the process should not be democratic because it prevents the natural flow of conveying ideas in a conversation. Third, one does not need to be an expert to add to the brainstorming. Lastly, taking notes is counterproductive because it becomes trying to memorize and study the wild ideas rather than to contribute and join in because it’s okay to have silly ideas.

Max Campolo 13:42:19 1/13/2014

This reading was about the importance of effective brainstorming. It detailed how brainstorming can be fun and productive and leads to the generation of great ideas that become the basis of new products and innovations. The reading also covered some common pitfalls of brainstorming sessions that can lead to the stifling of potentially good ideas. The first section laid out seven important concepts for better brainstorming. These “secrets” enable a group of people to realize the maximum potential of a brainstorming session. This includes defining a goal for the brainstorming session that is focused but not limited. Also, it is important to build on each other’s ideas, encourage outside the box thinking, and visualize ideas spatially using diagrams, notes, sketches and charts. It also helps to provide examples and context to get ideas flowing. Tips to avoid stymying a good brainstorming include taking turns where everyone only gets a limited time to speak and including only those that someone thinks will have better ideas than others. Being too conscious of taking notes and less focused on generating good ideas also harms the creativity of a brainstorming session.

James Devine 13:54:35 1/13/2014

This reading emphasizes the importance of brainstorming as a powerful technique for problem solving and for building ideas. Brainstorming is a skill that many people take for granted. Like all skills, some are more skilled than others, but practice certainly helps to increase one’s ability. Considering all of the intelligent people working with one another, it seems like common sense for these people to get together to come up with ideas. Only about an hour per week is needed for a brainstorm, and even if nothing comes from the session, at least coworkers can learn to be more comfortable working with one another. Too often, people claim to have partaken in brainstorming sessions, but the structure of these sessions could significantly diminish the participants ability to come up with ideas. It is important for everyone to feel comfortable and for the session to be informal. No ideas should be ignored, and ideas should be written down and expanded upon. Thus, brainstorming should be practiced, and this reading offers guidelines that lead to more successful brainstorms. The most important advice that I took away from this reading is to first write down my thoughts about solving a problem, even if I know it is not the answer. Too often when writing a paper or a program I notice that I try to figure everything out in my head. This leads me to sometimes forget good ideas or remember the bad ideas that have already failed. This reading convinced me to take time to brainstorm before beginning any future projects.

Brian Kelly 15:50:39 1/13/2014

The article on brainstorming was fairly insightful since most people do not brainstorm properly or enough in their work lives. The author gave several good tips on how to become a better brainstormer. For instance, the session should begin with a well-honed statement of the problem. He also suggested that you number your ideas as a way to gauge your progress during the brainstorm. One idea that I thought was particularly clever was to cover the entire room in paper so that you and your group can have a blank canvas to sketch out ideas on. In addition to the helpful hints on how to be a better brainstormer, he also gave a list of things that you should not do. Some of them were a little bit surprising, such as letting everyone get a turn. It sounds like a good idea to give everyone their own time-slot but this turns out to be fairly counter-productive in brainstorming. There were others that were listed that were more helpful reminders than novel ideas like remembering to not let yourself become consumed in writing everything down so that you can actively participate in the brainstorm. Overall, the author provided a very good list of things to remember when trying to have a successful brainstorming session.

Michael Mai 15:57:24 1/13/2014

This reading focused on the importance of brainstorming. The author goes through and discusses the do's and don'ts of brainstorming and why every organization should utilize this technique. One of his tricks was to make sure the topic of discussion was broad to allow for a wide range of different solutions to a problem. Another trick he lists is to number the ideas so that there is a goal in mind and also it helps with keeping track of where the group is in discussion. The author also suggests to have some group warm-up activities just so the group gets familiar with other members and this allows for a much more successful brainstorming session. Some bad brainstorming techniques included doing a round-robin where each person talks for a bit and then the discussion moves to the next person. He says that this technique is not a brainstormer and it is just painful to watch. He also recommends that the boss doesn't speak first because they have the habit of setting guidelines and rules. A brainstormer is much more productive when it is allowed to be free discussion. Overall, this reading seems to highlight some of the main features of brainstormers and why it is important. I find that it was definitely useful to know because brainstormers are crucial in software development. Whenever there is a problem, having a brainstorming session with a group can produce more creative and effective solutions than just individual brainstorming. The techniques laid out in this article were some that I did not even think of so it was definitely an insightful reading.

Buck Young 16:08:24 1/13/2014

Today's reading seems important considering the upcoming group assignment. Brainstorms can become fruitless if group members aren't given the freedom to fully stretch their mind during the session. I found two things to be quite interesting in the article. One, that visiting the toy store was more beneficial than doing research. This is surprising because it seems that being well prepared would benefit a brainstorm, however apparently keeping things light and fun are more important. Secondly, the use of spacial memory is a great idea. When I study for finals, I prefer to utilize a wide array of spaces and surfaces (whiteboards, notecards, notebooks, laptops, etc) because it helps me recall information; I can see how it would help during a brainstorm as well.

David Grayson 16:56:18 1/13/2014

Our reading from The Perfect Brainstorm was a particularly fluffy, feel-good, article on how to prepare for, implement, and get the most from a group brainstorming session from an employee at IDEO ( Even though it was fluffy and non-technical, the idea was well presented (though at times the evidence was anecdotal). The author’s main point was that brainstorming is more of an art, and not a science, which goes well with the article’s style. The first concern with brainstorming is making sure the idea is well defined and has a very specific scope; in order for the group to come up with many (hopefully hundreds according to the author) the participants must know what the focus is and the focus must have an appropriate level of specificity for the project. These hundreds of ideas should be numbered and it is a facilitator’s job to know when to build upon ideas and jump to related ideas. The most interesting concept presented was the idea of note-taking. Taking notes in a brain storming session is sometimes one person writing ideas on a piece of paper. This method is insufficient, according to the reading, because the group members cannot see the flow of ideas. One solution presented is to make the entire writing area a writing surface by covering it with post-it notes or butcher’s wrapping paper. This method allows for spatial memory of ideas and active participation in the note-taking process. In this way, when an idea is revisited group members can associate an idea with a particular space in the meeting and it will be easier to access. This also allows the one person who may have spent the entire meeting writing to participate more, since different people could be writing at different times. In general, the author argues for brainstorming styles that encourage creativity, blue-sky thinking, and fun.

Kyle Tanczos 17:48:09 1/13/2014

Reading today focused on brainstorming. The article opened up with stating the importance of brainstorming and improving brainstorming sessions. One thing I thought the article made confusing was terming a brainstorming session as a "brainstormer". Brainstormer should denote someone who is brainstorming, and the author could have created a better term to refer to a brainstorming session, such a "brainstorm" or "brainstorm event". The article talked about 7 ways to improve brainstorming: sharp focus, visible rules (but in a playful/nonserious sense), number ideas, build and jump ideas efficiently, spatially record brainstorm activity, warm-up prior to brainstorming, and use physical aids. All of these tips are very helpful to a brainstorming event, albeit somewhat predictable. I have no comment on any of the pointers as they are all sound and easy to implement. The article listed 6 ways to destroy a brainstorming event: including the boss, round robin discussion, using only expert input, going off-site, serious discussion only, and writing absolutely everything down. While these are all hurtful actions to a brainstorming events productivity, the author could have gone into greater difficulty on how specific to record a brainstormers' discussion. He/she only disputes not writing everything down, but does not elaborate on what topics/objects to record so that it is helpful but not excessive.

Derrick Ward 18:47:00 1/13/2014

This week’s reading explained the value and importance of a well-executed brainstorming session. Several ways of contributing negatively to a “brainstormer” was highlighted, as well as the many good ways in which the individual could help a brainstorming session flourish. Allowing the boss to speak first during a session is an idea in which I thought was correct. According to the literature, IDEO’s experience shows that allowing the boss to speak first could very well place a bottleneck on the creativity of the group. I know now that in the future, if I am ever the boss or leader of a brainstorming group, I will not be speaking first. Another aspect of hosting a good brainstorming session that I realize now that I would have failed at yet again is having the session go on for as many hours as we needed, until the right ideas were spoken of. I always envisioned that during the early phases of startup one must really buckle down and hold may creative session for hours at a time. Aside from the negativity, I found it intriguing the idea of covering all the space in a meeting-room with paper so that a team could better incorporate the power of spatial-memory in a brainstorming session. I for one had never thought of this idea. One would of imagined people thinking thoughts such as “disorganization” to have a meeting-room covered in paper; ready for people to scribble ideas anywhere they please. I learned a great deal from this reading and I plan to put these ideas into immediate action, within the several on-going group projects I have for this school semester.

Charlie Koch 19:14:16 1/13/2014

I found this reading extremely helpful. As the author notes, many people think of brainstorming as a given, an activity that happens regularly and accomplishes little. But if it is done properly, brainstorm is an incredibly powerful way to solve problems, create products, and generate more ideas. The Seven Secret for Better Brainstorming are brilliant, and I plan to use all of them! Number 5 (The Space Remembers) really seems powerful to me. Physical activity is known to increase mood, motivation, and energy, so of course a brainstorming session should take advantage of it! Not only does this guarantee to keep the energy flowing, but it also ensures that ideas are being recorded, because you are using everything as a source of inspiration and as a method of recording your ideas! Step 4 (Build and Jump) I also thought was very important. The worst thing to happen is a brainstorm is to lose the flow. Knowing when to "build" and when to "jump" can keep the session going. Overall, every bit of this reading was great and offered alot of excellent advice on how to effectively brainstorm!

Cody Giardinello 19:42:59 1/13/2014

Today's reading asks that the reader view "brainstorming" in the non-traditional sense. The author writes about his own experience in the corporate world where brainstorming can be either a check box in the monthly agenda or a frequently exercised form of learning. The author then lays out the ways to become a great brainstormer. These key concepts are (1) sharpen the focus, (2) playful rules, (3) number your ideas, (4) build and jump, (5) the space remembers, (6) stretch your mental muscles, and (7) get physical. These concepts lay the foundation for the best way to effectively brainstorm. A key point the author tries to get across is the fact that this happens regularly - not every so often. Next, the author explores ways in which a brainstormer can be "killed". These ways include (1) boss speaks first, (2) everyone gets a turn, (3) experts only, (4) do it off-site, (5) no silly stuff, and (6) write down everything. Through these topics, the author explains how some companies think they are brainstorming most effectively when in reality they are hurting the creative process. In sum, brainstorming an either be a task to be dreaded or one that can actually hatch brilliant and innovate new ideas.

Brett Lilley 19:50:10 1/13/2014

The reading for today was entirely focused on brainstorming. The author discussed what a proper brainstorming session (called a brainstormer) is, tips on carrying out a proper brainstormer, the effects of a brainstormer on the participants, and advice on what not to do during a brainstormer. Ultimately, the author informs the reader on how to achieve a perfect brainstormer, providing reasons on why the reader should be interested in doing so. The format of the reading is quite simple. Starting with basic information on brainstormers: why most people don't brainstorm enough, why brainstorming is an effective process, and what proper brainstorming is. Then the seven tips for a better brainstormer are listed and discussed, with examples and outcomes of how the author's company used these tips to their advantage. Following the tips, the positive effects a brainstormer has on a group/company/team are brought up. Positive effects mentioned include effects on the both individuals who participated and the team as a whole. The author finishes off with a section on what not to do during a brainstormer. All in all, I believe this reading makes sense to have been assigned for our class. Seeing as a major portion of our grade depends on a group project, if our groups can apply the brainstormer process described in the reading, we could see positive results when coming up with ideas, solving problems, and more.

Matt Landram 20:24:06 1/13/2014

Todays reading was a guide on how to effectively brainstorm. First, the author gives a list of rules to follow when brainstorming. These were to sharpen the focus, make sure the environment isn't harsh or strict, number the ideas, build off of other group members' ideas, make sure everyone has ample space to draw out their ideas, get to know the group you're brainstorming with, and make sure everyone is actively participating in the brainstorm. The author then describes six ways to limit a brainstorm's effectiveness. These were; have the boss lead the brainstorm, as this often limits creativity. Having a set order in which people have to speak is also a limiting factor that an effective brainstorm shouldn't have. Another problem listed is the need to have experts on any given subject participating. This limits the variety in people present in the brainstorm. Having the brainstorm away from the workplace can be distracting, as can coming up with silly ideas. The final brainstorm killer the author lists is having one person not participate and just write everything down. Taking notes crushes creativity and puts you into note-taking mode. The reading overall was a very helpful introduction to productive brainstorming. I'd have never guessed that 100 ideas in an hour was considered the baseline for a successful brainstorm.

Chris Solis 20:57:37 1/13/2014

Most of the paper focused on different ways to create an effective brainstorming session. In included: giving direction during the brainstorm but not limited to the point where it hinders brainstorming. Brainstorming is not a debate with a winner or loser but an open arena for generating ideas no matter how crazy. Number your ideas to keep track of all ideas and make sure no idea is counted more than once. Nurture an idea for as long as you can and switch topics when an idea has run its course for a while. Write down brainstorming ideas in a way for all to see. Warm-up before a session to get the mind ready. Getting physical within the brainstorming session can help individuals get excited and help with generating ideas. The rest of the paper stressed the importance of brainstorming to creating a ripple effect and what to avoid when brainstorming. Most of the things recommended not to do when brainstorming are very typical practices in most meetings. These things include: Going around in a circle one by one until everyone has had a turn. This hinders good imagination. Letting the boss run the brainstorm session. Only listening from a limited number or type of people. Brainstorming off-site with many distractions. Limiting the amount of humor in the session. Finally, writing down everything in the brainstorm is a good way to detach yourself from the session and reduce the chances of successful brainstorming.

Zach Liss 21:25:07 1/13/2014

I enjoyed the reading for today and I think it was very relevant to the first phases of our group project. The groups are going to need to have a number of good brainstorming sessions in order to develop some solid ideas for our group projects. I hope that since everyone in the class has read this essay there will be more of an opportunity to have productive brainstorming sessions. I especially liked the idea of putting materials that can be written on all of the brainstorming space. It's important that all of the ideas for a session can be saved.

Cory Savit 21:37:43 1/13/2014

Today's reading, "The Perfect Brainstorm", focused on both the benefits of brainstorming and how to effectively brainstorm. I found the article interesting and informative. Many of the ideas presented seemed to be common sense, but there were a few which I hadn't considered before. My experiences with others in the CS program and professional world, albeit limited, has left me with the impression that open communication is not many of our strong suits. By engaging in brainstorming groups are not only able to come up with good ideas as individuals, but can also open up communication that will help people to work together successfully. More than anything else I found the "Six Ways to Kill a Brainstormer" section to be the most insightful. While it is easy, at least for me, to come up with and present ideas in a stream-of-consciousness style, I hadn't really considered what external forces could stifle this type of brainstorming.

MJ McLaughlin 21:40:53 1/13/2014

This chapter from The Perfect Brainstorm provided really interesting insight into the brainstorming process. I had always thought that brainstorming just meant getting a lot of people together in a room and having them basically throw out ideas about anything until one sticks. But after reading this chapter it is clear that there are very important intricacies of the brainstorming process that must be taken into account and that must drive a brainstorm for the session to be truly valuable and productive. Just like physical exercise, your brain and brainstorming skills must be exercised regularly and well to be most productive. Around sixty minutes of brainstorming that adheres to the following principals is maximally beneficial. First, a good brainstorm should have a well-defined question or problem to solve. Members should also build on and encourage playful ideas instead of critiquing or questioning them. Visually reminders and numbering of ideas is also a great way to keep track of ideas and jump back and forth between them. It’s a good idea to build on ideas, and also jump forward to a new idea or back to an old idea when it becomes hard to keep adding to the current idea. Spatial cues in such forms as Sharpies, Post-it notes, and lots of paper also help capture ideas and help people recapture them to return to later. Mental warm-ups can also be very beneficial for newer/distracted groups, and, finally, being physical by practicing such techniques as brining in similar products/solutions to those you are brainstorming about, tools to build concepts, and acting out usage scenarios all add to a useful brainstorming session. Brainstorming gets people excited about new ideas and helps them work together. But brainstormers must also be sure not to fall into such bad practices as letting someone set a restrictive agenda for the meeting, forcing people to talk in turn, restricting attendance to “experts,” carrying out brainstorms in locations outside the workplace (where you most want creative thinking to happen and be associated with), shooting down creative or “silly” ideas, or taking notes to the point that they become distracting to the brainstorming process. Brainstorming is a technique that can help people come up with a lot of ideas, and hopefully a lot of great ideas. By following these principals, people can be creative, productive, and get excited about new ideas. And that is what leads to these great ideas.

Zhanjie Zhang 22:01:23 1/13/2014

The reading begins by telling the reader that brainstorming is something akin to a skill such as riding a bicycle or playing the piano. Most people think that brainstorming is just a checkbox to check off so that they can say that they have done it. Unfortunately, most people do not actually do it enough, and that every organization can benefit if people did it more often. Brainstorming allows the group to be more effective in what they do and provide positive benefits to teams. For groups, the article stated that there should be 7 things that they do for a better brainstorming session. First, they must be focused and have topic statements that focuses outward onto customers’ needs rather than the organization. Secondly, the members of the group must be open to new ideas to prevent sapping too much energy from the group. If too many people discourage each other, it will not be beneficial to the group. Thirdly, the group must be organized by numbering their ideas. If not, then the participants may not be motivated during the session and may not be on track. Fourthly, the group must be aware of when to jump on good ideas and follow the thinking from the fifth point to continue to develop their ideas. Sixthly and seventhly, the group must stretch their mental and physical muscles. This is so that they can use their time worthwhile while they actually do work. Just like there are ways to help a brainstorm, there are ways where brainstorms sessions can be quickly ended due to bad habits. These include having the boss speak first which can limit the scope of brainstorming that the group can do. Secondly, if everyone was given a turn, then not much creatively can be done very quickly. Thirdly, if only experts are allowed to speak without others voicing their opinions, then voices may be silenced when they should not have been. Fourthly, the team should make sure that it is not done offsite because then people would be distracted. Lastly, people must be silly so that odd ideas can grow, and groups must not have to write everything down which slows the rate that people brainstorm. This reading conveyed the importance of brainstorming and how to sharpen my skills in it. I was given a list of things to do and not to do so that I may follow in the future.

Guh6 (Guoyang Huang) 22:40:55 1/13/2014

The article has taught me a lot of new information regarding brainstorming that I had never realize before. Firstly, brainstorming is an art form or a skill that takes a lot of time to get a hang of and they’re emphasized in the seven secrets for better brainstorming. I’ve learned that one should start a brainstorming session with a statement that is not narrow-minded towards a particular solution because that will stymie other approaches. For secretes numbered 2 and 3, I’ve learned that one should draw or sketch the ideas so others can visualize it. For 6 and 7, I’ve learned that the better way to start a brainstorming session is to do a warm-up and sometimes that requires show-and-tell with tangible items. The article also described ways to avoid creating a negative brainstorming session. I’ve learned that surprisingly, a brainstorming session can create up to a hundred different ideas and to be an innovated company. From the “Six ways to kill a brainstormer”, the first thing I’ve learned is that the boss should not start off the session because he/she might limit the ideas because of favoring practical ideas over wild ideas. Second, the process should not be democratic because it prevents the natural flow of conveying ideas in a conversation. Third, one does not need to be an expert to add to the brainstorming. Lastly, taking notes is counterproductive because it becomes trying to memorize and study the wild ideas rather than to contribute and join in because it’s okay to have silly ideas.

Ariana Farshchi 23:07:24 1/13/2014

This weeks reading, The Perfect Brainstorm, outlined the reasons and steps for successfully brainstorming. The author paints brainstorming as a skill or an art, explaining that if you practice it, you can become good at it. Seven secrets for better brainstorming are laid out for the reader. The first, SHARPEN THE FOCUS explains when beginning the brainstorming process, it is best to focus outward on a specific goal rather than inward. The second, PLAYFUL RULES tells us not to debate or critique ideas because it can kill the energy the group has. The third, NUMBER YOUR IDEAS tells us that numbering ideas is a great way to jump between ideas, and also helps set a goal for how many ideas you want to acquire during the session. Number four, BUILD AND JUMP says to try building upon ideas or jump backwards to a previous approach or forward to a new one. The fifth, THE SPACE REMEMBERS tells us to write the flow of ideas down on a medium so the entire group can see them. It helps the group see their progress. The sixth, STRETCH YOUR MENTAL MUSCLES says that it’s beneficial to do group warm-ups, such as clearing your mind or content related homework if the group has not worked together before or infrequently. And last, GET PHYSICAL tells us that good brainstorms are extremely visual, so drawing and building objects is extremely helpful during the process. After exploring successful brainstorming techniques, the author then explains six ways to kill a brainstorm. In this section the author explains that if people “take turns” or are specified a time to talk, it sets a negative tone for the process, and becomes pointless. They tell us that you do not have to be an “expert brainstormer” to do it, and you may come up with as many kooky ideas as you wish, because those ideas keep the groups energy alive. This reading was quite beneficial, and I will be using many of these tips during group brainstorming sessions.

Longhao Li 23:39:56 1/13/2014

This article talked about the importance of brainstorming. The author gave us a detailed explanation of the functions of brainstorming, and point out how it can help companies to get some new ideas. Also, in the article, the author talked about the ways to improve the efficiency of brainstorming, like sharpen the focus, focus on something specific but not too specific and stretch your mental muscles, doing some warm up actions before brainstorming. All of these seems correct to make a great brainstorm. Meanwhile, the author talked about the brainstormer effect, which tell us how it can motivate people to generate new thoughts and give people the opportunity to speak out their ideas. At the end, the author talked about the ways that may kill the brainstormers’ idea. If the boss gets to speak first, maybe their words will lead to limitations on the thoughts of brainstormers. If the brainstormers write down everything, they may lose the opportunity to think since writing will shift their focus to writing. In general, the author point out a good way to do brainstorming. So I think follow the rules the author pointed out can help us to use brainstorming to find some great ideas to solve problems.

Matt O' Hanlon 23:52:18 1/13/2014

While I agree that brainstorming is an essential process for just about any process, I'm not sure that it's necessarily a daily practice. Brainstorming everyday as described in the book might be good for marketing groups, writers or other artists, and sales teams, it's not going to help a group meet project deadlines. Groups of people need brainstorming to help get a project moving, or maybe intermittently to help solve some problem or deadlock, but project management is inherently a refinement process towards a finished product. I found the 7 secrets for brainstorming most useful from the entire reading. It has always been my personal belief that meetings are a complete waste of time, and the author made it immediately clear that brainstorming should not be anything like a meeting. Meetings are all too often off the mark when it comes to addressing the problem or finding the solution for which the meeting was called. The idea concerning the recognition of spaces to recollect ideas in the mind is especially enticing, and I think I'm going to try it out where possible.

Megan Ziegler 0:25:50 1/14/2014

"The Perfect Brainstorm" is a short article detailing methodology for an effective brainstorming session. The author insists that brainstorming is akin to an artform which must be practiced regularly. They recommend nearly daily brainstorming sessions lasting an average of sixty minutes, maximum of 90 minutes. For an effective brainstorm, first a sharp, but open goal must be laid in front of the brainstormers. From there, they can begin generating ideas; it is important not to rule out anything on principle of being too silly at this point, and attempt instead to build on one another's ideas. If something isn't going anywhere, it's best to jump to a new topic. All surfaces should be used for writing and drawing, and brainstormers can be encouraged to build models or act out helpful scenarios. The author also offers some insight on things that can kill a brainstorming session: letting a CEO speak first, for instance, or having everyone take slow turns, or going too slowly so that one person can write everything down. Being a snob about who to invite or which ideas are good enough stymies thought flow, as well.

Brian Kacin 2:02:36 1/14/2014

The beginning started off stating that most companies do not “brainstorm” more than once a month and when they do, it is not an effective way to brainstorm. A “brainstorm” is mostly for solving a current problem right now or to see visions early in a project. The following are details about the seven hints to a good brainstorm session. The first is to sharpen the focus, which means that you should not narrow down your problem or goal to a specific case, and then there is less room for innovation while limiting the possible solutions. The second is to have playful rules, by having no critique and listening to every idea, no matter how bad it seems, quantity of ideas is better. Three is numbering your ideas so you have a reference point to jump back to and to see how productive your meeting really is. The next step is to build and jump. To keep momentum going, try and build off ideas or jump to a previous idea that was not looked at carefully. The fifth step is to writing down every idea on a plane that everyone can see, either sharpie or post it notes or etc. The sixth step is to do some brain exercises in the beginning as a group if it is the first time a group is working or most of the people were previously infrequent in prior brainstorming, this will loosen up the group and get everybody on good ground. The last step is to get physical, by acting out ideas, drawing them on the board, anything to get the senses flowing. There are also ways to kill a brainstormer: by letting the boss speak first, limiting the people interacting, doing it off-site, everybody gets a turn, and literally writing everything down. All of these help kill the creativity and spontaneous of a great idea or solution just waiting to happen.

Melissa Thompson 2:07:00 1/14/2014

This article is about brainstorming, and how to use it to your advantage. The author talks about how most people think that they brainstorm and that they know how to do so well, but everyone can brainstorm more often than they do to get more creative and innovative solutions to problems. He talks about how brainstorming is used at IDEO (his company?) and then jumps into how to effectively brainstorm to come up with new ideas and solve problems. He gives seven rules to make a brainstorming session succesful: You need to clearly state the problem in an engaging way, encourage people to contribute without worrying about being shot down, number the ideas that are discussed, build off of ideas to create new ones, keep the flow of ideas organized and visible to everyone, warm up the group with exercises and hands-on materials (if they need it), and get physically involved in the brainstorming session. He points out that "brainstormers" help you approach things differently than sitting at a desk like we do every day and get people excited about working on things. It breaks up the monotonous work day into something more fun and rewarding. He also goes through a list of ways to not brainstorm, like having the boss run the meeting, giving allotted time slots to speakers, limiting the type of people who are allowed in the meetings, or not allowing everyone to come up with wild ideas to get the creative flow going. Basically anything that limits creative freedom too much is going to be unhelpful. This reading was really interesting to me, and a lot more fun to read than last Thursday's! The author writes from experience, so it's neat to read about what he found worked for him and his employees. I also liked reading about all the crazy ideas that they came up with in their "brainstormers". The only thing I can't wrap my brain around is coming up with 100 ideas per hour long meeting. That hardly seems like enough time to discuss an idea and build off of it to me. But overall I loved his ideas. If someone had asked me about brainstorming before reading this, I probably would have shrugged them off, but I have to agree with him now. Brainstorming should be a big part of the workplace (and life!).

Bret Gourdie 3:17:36 1/14/2014

This reading involves the brainstorming process at IDEO. They offer seven rules for brainstorming: sharpen the focus by making the problem less narrow, make playful rules like bell ringing when meeting habits manifest, number ideas to track progress, build and jump by expanding on an old idea for something new, use spatial memory for ease of remembering ideas, stretch mental muscles by utilizing mental games, and get physical by using the actual items being talked about. The reading also explained the "don'ts" of brainstorming, such as requiring the boss to speak first, letting everyone have a turn, only allowing qualified people to brainstorm, using an external location, restricting silly things, and recording everything. Following the two would be helpful in creating an environment full of innovation in everyday settings, not only in a special location or during a special time.

Pedro Alvillar 3:41:50 1/14/2014

Brainstorming isn’t as simple of a task as others say it is, it takes practice to get better at brainstorming. There are a set of guidelines which define the perfect brainstorm. Firstly, the problem that the group is trying to solve must be very well defined. In addition to this, one must hold off on critiquing ideas, in order to allow the brainstorming session to flow more smoothly and thus be more productive. It is very important to number your ideas in order to keep track of them during discussion. One must also remember to keep energy levels of discussion high by building on an idea or jumping to another idea when discussion slows down. Writing down a groups ideas on different walls of a room, causes the group to regain their train of thought about a specific idea when you return to where said idea was written. It is a good idea to set some sort of group warm up activity in order to get the group members minds and mouths going (especially if the group hasn’t worked together before). Brainstorming sessions provide an opportunity for friendly competition between co-workers, as they all strive to come up with the next big idea, from which everyone in the group benefits and gets fired up about. There are of course several pitfalls which one must avoid when organizing and executing a brainstorming session, these include : letting the head of the group speak first, letting everyone in the group speak by turn, letting only the experts speak, having the brainstorming session away from the office, disregarding silly ideas, and writing everything down.

Ryan Ulanowicz 6:47:48 1/14/2014

Brainstorming is an important part of the creation process, and while most people think that they are using it effectively, it is highly unlikely that they aren’t. While most people see it as a skill that they have acquired, it is more like playing the piano, something that you can continually get better at. They should be 60 to 90 minute sessions where a group gets together and tries to come up with as many new ideas as possible. It should not feel like work, but an open, friendly atmosphere that helps fill the team with a sense of optimism and allows a free exchange of ideas. Sometimes it is best to sharpen your mind before hand, by clearing it with simple word games. It is also best to not number or critique ideas during the session; this can turn the energy level down. However, using visuals such as pictures or diagrams is a great way to get more visual brainpower involved. At the end we may have 100 ideas in a solid brainstorming session and 10 could be solid ideas. However if we make everyone speak, or limit talking to experts in the subject we risk killing brainstorming before it gets off the ground. Be easy and free when brainstorming for optimal results. You’ll end up with a happy and energized team.

Aamir Nayeem 8:23:15 1/14/2014

Today's reading talks about the importance of brainstorming, which is often overlooked and rarely executed properly, if at all. However, some very good ideas can come from an environment that is conducive to building ideas without too much direction or instruction. It seems like placing importance on brainstorming really does have a lot of benefits for the product and for the workplace as a whole, and it's not even that it takes a lot of time or is unproductive. I've had small idea-building sessions with two senior colleagues that took roughly an hour but saved me days of going down the wrong path on a project, so I think that the importance that the author places on open and formal brainstorming is justified.