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Brainstorm to generate ideas

50+ ideas and 4+ themes that those ideas fall into

DFA UC Davis
50+ ideas and 4+ themes that those ideas fall into


Do brainstorms to help your team propose many solutions that tangibly envision how ideas can create impact.

Creative Mindsets
Creative mindsets prime team members to use wild ideas to push boundaries and view all challenge as solvable. Some techniques include: creating a convivial atmosphere with music and jokes, playing improv games like mockups, or temporarily imposing constraints to view your challenge differently.


Brainstorms facilitated with carefully worded challenge statements, and the aid of the common brainstorming rules below, can result in amazingly complex and productive outcomes. The following Rules of Generation, developed in the 1950’s and further refined by contemporary designers to fit their own particular needs, are often used to help teams think in these ways.

1. Quantity over Quality
  • Details and “good” ideas are not as important as coming up with anything and everything that may work. Your team will refine ideas later and you never know what might spark another idea.
2. Defer Judgment
  • Judging ideas, negatively or positively, can discourage team members from contributing further or steer the group off-course. Save this for refinement, and accept all kinds of ideas for now.
3. Build on Ideas
  • Putting together multiple ideas or using the ideas of others as stepping stones is a great way to go beyond the obvious. It also helps individuals get less attached to their own ideas.
4. Encourage Wild Ideas
  • While pie-in-the-sky ideas may seem absurd, they can inspire your team to think big and spark solutions that were previously not considered. No idea is too crazy or big to disregard.
5. Visualize Ideas
  • Using sketches and mock-ups (see page 41) not only gives clarity to an individual’s idea but also helps assure that everyone on the team is picturing the same thing when discussing it.
6. Stay Focused
  • Even though idea generation is all about divergence, staying on topic will save time and keep minds sharp. Using a How Can We statement as a guide is highly recommended since it encompasses the work your team already did during Understand.Effective ways to do this


Effective ways to do this include:

1. Prepare the room with space and materials for writing ideas.
  • Having energizing music prepared is helpful, too.
2. Review your How Can We’s and Measures of success as a team.
4. Do 3-4 minute brainstorms on each how can we.
5. Share your work and build on the ideas for 5-7 minutes.
6. Repeat for each HCW (usually about 4).
7. Review ideas and cluster into themes.
8. Compare themes with M.O.S to see which ones have the biggest potential for creating the impact your team wants to make.
9. Have each member pick a theme to continue fleshing out over the week and bring to the next meeting to review so you can pick 2-3 to build.
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