What is brainstorming and what is it used for?

Brainstorming is a common technique often used by facilitators or in meetings focused on problem-solving in creative ways, but it's also commonly used in training sessions as a learning tool, to energize groups, and to provoke discussion.

One way of defining it is to say it is a technique where creative thinking takes precedence over the practical, at least initially. The idea is to put before the group all ideas possible with no thought to their practicality, and to suspend evaluation during the idea generation process. Participants and learners are encouraged not to evaluate, since that impedes the creative flow of ideas.

Uses of Brainstorming

  • To get as many ideas as possible from the group before the evaluative discussion takes place.
  • To encourage practically minded people to think beyond their immediate day to day issues.
  • To generate additional energy in a training seminar, since brainstorming, when done correctly tends to create a sense of movement due to it's fast paced interaction.
  • To encourage quieter or introverted participants to get involved, since the evaluative function is removed, at least initially.
  • To get ideas and information FROM the group, so they can learn from each other and not just from the trainer or facilitator, or group leader.
  • Brainstorming is often used as an icebreaker, at the beginning of a training session to get people talking to each other, and "into" the training, since it tends to be an engaging process.

More on brainstorming, pro's, con's and other training methods

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