I recently purchased the February 2010 issue of Psychology Today. In the How To section (p 28), there is a technique called brainwriting.
Oftentimes during a brainstorm session people get off topic, differing views clash, and time is wasted. Usually someone will have to wait for several minutes as others present their ideas, and God forbid being the last person to speak because you'll have everybody else to go before you.
A recent study, undertaken by business professor Perter Heslin of Southern Methodist University, shows that brainwriting can produce ideas with higher quality and efficiency than traditional brainstorming methods. Because there is no need for facilitators and there is no "production blocking," brainwriting appears (to me) to be better, although I have not had a chance to put the technique into practice but will report back when I have done so.
1. Everyone in the group sits at the table with a pen (each team member must have different-color ink) and paper. Each member writes out a single idea on the piece of paper and passes it to their right. According to Heslin, "Using different-color pens can be stressful, but more people participate and everyone is accountable for their ideas."
2. Upon receiving a piece of paper, read the idea(s) and add your own. If you can't think of anything, just pass the paper and wait for the next one.
3. When each paper has about five ideas, place it in the center of the table. When all slips are done, begin the pass-and-read cycle again for analytical purposes. "After the ideas are out there, there's a nedd for systematic consideration of each idea."
4. Each participant makes a list of their favorite idea, and the most popular are recorded. "When the group is committed, they are usually surprised with what they achieve."
I'll apply this technique as soon as possible, but any feedback is appreciated as always!
10 hours ago