What Are Some Different Types of Brainstorming

There are several ways to conduct brainstorming sessions. This section describes three of them. First, there is group interactive brainstorming. This approach can be loud and expressive. When group members think out loud, that stimulates ideas that build on each other, resulting in a list of many ideas. Ideas can be posted on a large flipchart as individuals call them out. It is important for the recorder to capture each individual's idea by writing his or her exact words on the flipchart and for others to refrain from commenting on or evaluating the ideas offered.

A second technique is silent brainstorming. Each person on the team first thinks about ideas during a silent period and then writes each idea on a Post-it Note and hands the batch of completed notes to the recorder, who reads each idea out loud before posting it on a flipchart. One form of this written, silent brainstorming is called the nominal group technique. In this method the team does not engage in a highly interactive form of conversation and idea building; it is literally a group in name only. Instead, each member of the group quietly writes down his or her ideas, one idea per Post-it Note, for a set period of time. When the idea generation time is finished, the recorder goes around the group eliciting ideas, one at a time, until all ideas are posted. This type of brainstorming works well for highly controversial topics.

It is possible to blend these different brainstorming methods. For example, a team could start with silent brainstorming, giving everyone a chance to think and get some ideas out, and then move to interactive brainstorming.

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