Brainstorming is a concept generation method in which several designers rapidly generate concepts.  Unlike Collaborative Sketching, communication between designers is less structured.  The objective of brainstorming is to generate a large number of diverse solutions, from which concepts can be chosen for further investigation.


Brainstorming has two basic variables: the number n of designers participating and the time t spent on the brainstorming activity.  Otto and Wood (2001) suggest some constraints on the brainstorming process: (1) generated ideas should not be overly criticized, (2) group members should not consist entirely of domain experts, and (3) hierarchically structured groups should be avoided.

The basis protocol for Brainstorming is as follows:

  1. Designate a facilitator.  The facilitator does not directly contribute to concept generation but encourages others to contribute.
  2. Review the problem.
  3. Generate concepts for a given time t, usually 20-25 minutes.
  4. If ideas have not stagnated, brainstorming can continue if desired.  If ideas have stagnated, stop or use concept generation tools like SCAMPER, etc., to generate more concepts.