We explain what a brainstorming is or brainstorming, its characteristics, advantages and disadvantages. In addition, we tell you what it is for.

Brainstorming was created by publicist and creativity theorist Alex F. Osborn.

What is brainstorming?

Brainstorming, popularly known as brainstorming (from English “mental storm” or “brainstorm”), is a group work technique that consists of freely proposing ideas and associations based on a concept determined, with the purpose of obtaining innovative ideas and original perspectives.

Very popular in marketing and advertising environments, brainstorming It was popularized and formalized as a method in the mid-20th century. by American publicist and creativity theorist Alex F. Osborn (1888-1966). Osborn went to her to save her advertising agency during a period of crisis, as he recounts in his book applied imagination from 1953.

In principle, the brainstorming consisted of bringing together the advertising creatives, proposing a topic to think about and then collecting the ideas that arose freely, taking into account a single golden rule: do not argue.

The effectiveness of brainstorming is the subject of debate among psychologists and students of the mind. There are studies that affirm a greater creative capacity of individuals alone than when in groups, since there is a natural inhibition in the presence and opinions of others, a certain desire to captivate and please. However the brainstorming It continues to be used in different fields as a tool to promote creative chaos.

See also: Creative thinking

Characteristics of a brainstorm

a session of brainstorming or brainstorming is characterized by:

  • Gather a group of people around a single topic of reflection, under the premise of contributing all the ideas they have on the subject. These groups can vary in number of participants, but it must be a manageable number, which allows an atmosphere of trust and freedom.
  • Encourage the production of ideas free of judgment, that is, pure and unfiltered creativityto then choose the most promising ideas and move on to the debate.
  • Take advantage of the diversity of the group of participants and the possibility of creating on top of what someone else has imagined first.
  • Require a moderator and a code of respect to avoid disorder in the interaction between the participants. You aspire to have a creative chaos, where the ego and social situations occupy a minimum place.
  • Have a certain length of time (usually between 60 and 90 minutes).
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What is brainstorming for?

Brainstorming is a useful tool to break the traditional molds of thought and encourage a free approach to a subject certain. This means that it allows participants to use their creativity without fear of the opinions of third parties, thus being able to feel much freer and be more daring in their proposals.

In this way, brainstorming aspires to obtain a greater creative performance, that is, to accumulate in a short period of time a large number of original ideasand then choose the best one or the best among them.

Advantages and disadvantages of brainstorming

A brainstorming session has useful and positive aspects, as well as weaknesses. Both things can be summarized as follows:

Advantages of brainstorming Disadvantages of brainstorming
You get a lot of ideas in a short period of time. It can become a chaotic and frustrating experience if you don’t have clear rules.
Much more daring and free ideas are obtained than in a more formal context. The experience can be monopolized by a few participants, while the rest barely contemplate.
We work together and promote horizontality in the team. It requires a margin of trust between the participants that is not always easy to create.
Original thinking and “outside the box” are promoted. There is a risk of going round and round and getting nowhere.

How to brainstorm?

To carry out a brainstorming, the following steps must be followed:

  • Choose the participants. The ideal group for a session brainstorming it is made up of people who are different from each other, with different tasks and different values, but with enough institutional spirit or enough discipline not to get involved in personal diatribes. One of them must be the moderator; ideally someone who has some authority on the subject. Once chosen, always in a limited group, they must meet in a separate space, without contact with other people or interruptions.
  • Set the rules of the game. It is important that the participants are engaged in the session, willing to collaborate and that they understand the basic rules of brainstorming, which are:
    • suspension of trial. During the brainstorming, the contributions will not be criticized or evaluated, but all possible ideas will be added and noted. The debate will be left for later.
    • ideas belong to no one. This is not a creativity or popularity contest, but an intensive session of free thinking. Therefore, there are no winners or losers, nor is it necessary to compete for more and better ideas, and it is totally possible to take the ideas of another to complement, modify or make them grow.
    • All participants must bring. No one should remain silent. All ideas are equally valid and must be noted, without any distinction or discrimination. The ideas exposed can be of different types, funny, severe, daring, without restriction.
  • Keep a record of the session. When the brainstorming begins, it is ideal to have a whiteboard or support of some kind to write down the ideas that come up in a way that they are visible to everyone. The session should last for a set amount of time and occur in an air of trust, collaboration and, if possible, communion.
  • Choosing the best registered ideas. Once the time for brainstorming has elapsed, the evaluation and discussion of the annotated ideas must take place, taking into account the pros and cons of each one, until the best ones are found in this way. These final ideas should be seen as the fruit of the activity and therefore derived from the collective contribution.
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  • “Brainstorming” on Wikipedia.
  • “Brainstorming” at the Open University of Catalonia (Spain).
  • “Brainstorming” at the Cervantes Virtual Center (Spain).
  • “Brainstorming, examples for companies” at the American University of Europe (UNADE).