We all know people who are very creative and seem to be able to come up with novel and valuable solutions to problems. The figure below describes the process used by many creative people. The process is intuitive and may not be consciously understood by the individual trying to formulate a problem solution. Guided Brainstorming™ methods have addressed these issues.

The Guided Brainstorming™ Process

The Guided Brainstorming™ Process is a systematic technique that can be used by individuals and teams to address well defined and complex problems.

Getting Started: Learn Guided Brainstorming TRIZ method and tools. Evaluate the complexity of the problem at hand. If it is a well defined problem, you can go directly to step 3 and generate ideas. However, if it is a complex problem and not well defined, assemble a team of experts with depth in the specific problem area, and functional breadth spanning the major roles within a company, train them to the level of GB TRIZ Practitioner level and proceed to Step 1.

Step 1. Challenge: The purpose of this step is to frame the problem, expectations, constraints and success criteria for the solution. It is also important to have access to qualitative and quantitative data to help in the process. For complex projects we recommend the use of a Systems Approach to identify the system that contains the problem.

Step 2. Opportunity: The next critical step is identifying opportunities for brainstorming. System performance can be enhanced in three ways:

  1. Improving or performing useful functions
  2. Reducing or eliminating harmful functions
  3. Resolving contradictions between useful and harmful functions in the system

For complex problems, use a Function Model – a diagrammatic tool designed to understand cause-and-effects and relationships between useful and harmful functions. Function modeling enhances a FAST (Function Analysis System Technique) diagram by including the interactions of useful and harmful functions to identify contradictions to help identify key areas on which to focus brainstorming efforts.

Step 3. Ideas: In this step we conduct a Guided Brainstorming™ session. The key element of this process is a system of inventive principles, derived from the TRIZ methodology, to focus and energize idea generation activity. TRIZ (pronounced treez - Teoriya Resheniya Izobreatatelskikh Zadatch) is the Russian acronym for the "Theory of Inventive Problem Solving”. Sergey Malkin, together with Gregory Frenklach, worked to capture the benefits of the TRIZ methodology, while making it easy to learn and apply. As a result a New System of Inventive Principles was developed. Each principle captures an abstraction which embodies a creative approach to solving real world problems from diverse situations and industries.

Brainstorming often falls short of expectations, yielding a large number of mostly low-quality ideas. (A typical brainstorming session produces 10-50 wild ideas and 1-2 valuable ones.) With classical brainstorming participants actively generate ideas for the first 20% of the session. The rest of the session is spent "squeezing" ideas out of the participants. Classical brainstorming leverages only the past experiences of the people on the brainstorming team.

Guided Brainstorming leverages the experience of thousands of inventors captured in the form of Inventive Principles. Each Inventive Principle is a thought provoking suggestion, which helps you transform mental models (dynamic mental images) of the system elements, actions and environment. These principles can be used to overcome “functional fixedness,” (or psychological inertia, as it is referred to in the TRIZ community) and stimulate new ways to find and use hidden resources to address the problem. Download free System of Inventive Principles to use it as your Guided Brainstorming Companion.

Step 4. Concepts and an Action Plan: The ideas generated in the Guided Brainstorming™ sessions can now be evaluated and combined into solution concepts, the best of which can be selected for implementation. If the technical means to implement a selected concept require further development, these subsequent problems can be addressed with additional Guided Brainstorming™ sessions.

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