Ingenius: A Crash Course on Creativity by Tina Seelig has been a pretty awesome read thus far.

Something I wanted to share from this book is Tina’s take on brainstorming. Now, I never would of thought that brainstorming could be complicated or actually have guidelines other than writing a bunch of ideas down. But, she has given some pointers that actually make sense… I guess that’s why she wrote a book about it ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I’ll will do my best to give you the bullet points…

To begin, what does the room look like in advance?

  • The need for proper space is a must.
  • Everyone should be standing as standing is more energetic and engaging.
    • It even allows for quick changes in the flow of ideas.
  • Use whiteboards and sticky notes to cover the WHOLE room, use the entire space

Next, Who should participate? Participants are very important

  • The people invited to brainstorm should have different POV (points of view) and expertise
    • (This will not be the group of people who makes the final decision!)
  • Example: Brainstorming for a car Include –
    • Engineers will build it
    • Customers who buy it
    • Salespeople who sell it
    • Mechanics who repair it
    • Valets who park etc.

What is the brainstorming topic? Framing the topic is mission critical.

  • You want it to be provocative that generates the most excitement.
  • Can’t be too broad or too narrow

What else should be in the room? Fill the room with things that get the creative juices flowing.

  • She uses the example of designing a new pen
  • Bring a bunch of different writing instruments and any other toys
  • Bring simple prototyping materials so you can actually see the product rather than drawing it

How do you start a brainstorming session?

Start with a warm up:

brain lubricant

  • Mad libs
  • poems
  • Silly prompts such as “How would you design eyeglasses if we didn’t have ears?”

What are the rules of brainstorming? This is the exploration phase afterall

  • Encourage wild and crazy ideas
  • Explore all possibilities

What is the brainstorming process?

  • Only one conversation at a time so everyone is in sync (not the boy band… I’ll see myself out)
  • What ever the most obvious solutions are to the problem, toss them out.
  • Try reframing the prompts along the way —
    • For example, ideas for a new playground
      • Ask for the design of a playground on the moon or underwater
      • Design it for $1 or $1,000,000 etc

How do ideas get captured?

  • Make sure everyONE has a pen and sticky notes – avoid having one person control the flow of ideas
  • Utilize mind mapping
    • Start with the central topic and draw lines to the sub topics

How much time does a brainstorming session take?

  • Should keep the energy level as high as possible
  • Typically about 45 minutes to an hour
  • Best way to end the session is on a high note

Finally, What do you do when you’re done?

  • Have the participants pick their favorite ideas for different scenarios
    • Most cost effective idea
    • The idea that can be implemented immediately
  • Final step is to document all ideas and give them to the decision makers
    • The other ideas can be revisited if needed


I kind of want to try or see this in action… Can you imagine if you get the right group of people in one room for an hour? I wonder what type of prompts would produce the most ideas? I’ll keep everyone posted when I come up with one. The future of innovation is upon us, we could easily hold a google chat and set this up from the comfort of our own homes. Lets try it sometime!

Thanks for reading.

Take it easy

(Basically this whole post is all Tina Seelig and she deserves the credit – I am a huge fan of her books)