Monday, 2 May 2022

Brainstorming for managing project

Organizations based on the Six Sigma management concept use a variety of systems and techniques to analyze processes and solve problems. And here there is a place for creative and non-standard thinking, since it is new ideas that push the existing boundaries and open up new prospects in the current work. One of the common tools of the Six Sigma concept is the "brainstorming" method, which is the basis for finding and generating non-standard and creative ideas in the shortest possible time.

Beware of comments like, "There's only one solution to this problem." Every problem always has more than one solution.

Brainstorming helps with a comprehensive assessment. The effectiveness of brainstorming is seriously reduced if the problem has not been carefully analyzed beforehand, and the process of evaluating solutions and selecting the optimal option is not fully developed.

Brainstorming Rules

  1. Clarify a clear goal or brainstorming objective. Until all participants in the assault have an understanding of the goals and objectives, ideas will flow randomly. Quantity is also important here, not quality. It is important to establish the number of ideas. For example, "let's offer 30 ideas in 5 minutes." This approach will increase the chances of more ideas, which will have a good effect on achieving a breakthrough in solving the task.
  2. Listen to others and build ideas together with other participants. Brainstorming specialists should pay attention to the ideas of all participants, and in no case reject ideas during the session of the storm. Perhaps the idea of one participant will become the basis for the necessary idea in another brain – absolutely all ideas and proposals are important here.
  3. Do not condemn, criticize or comment on the ideas of other participants. This is the most important key to the success of this technique. If you focus on discussing one idea, then new ideas may not be on the agenda.
  4. Avoid self-criticism. The most insidious thoughts judging your idea are only in your head! Remember an important rule: even the most stupid idea can become key for another brain and give the basis for a brilliant idea!


At Toyota, using the brainstorming method, all the features of the concept of the future Toyota Prius car model were brought together.

Brainstorming procedure

(1)  Gather a group of people participating in a brainstorming session.

(2) Reconsider whether the problem or the task being solved is precisely defined.

(3) Explain to the team the essence and goals of the problem or task being solved. If necessary, provide all the important task so that everyone understands the issue being solved.

(4) Give a few minutes of silence so everyone can think about the problem and write down their ideas:

4.1 for ease of further gathering and consolidation of information, instruct the group to write down their ideas on stickers or small pieces of paper;

4.2. encourage creativity and imagination – no idea can be useless for brainstorming.

(5) After everyone is done writing ideas, collect them: 

5.1 everyone in a circle expresses one idea (or everyone can express all their ideas at once).
pay attention to each idea.

5.2 if they are written on stickers, collect them and stick a sticker on the board;

5.2.1 if everyone speaks out loud, you can write down ideas on a whiteboard where everyone can see them.

5.2.2 if the brainstorming method is carried out to analyze root causes (for example, for DMAIC), then stickers with ideas are better placed immediately on cause-and-effect diagrams.

5.2.3 Don't start discussing ideas until they've all been assembled. Only explanatory questions are allowed. 

5.2.4 A group of participants can write down newly emerging ideas during brainstorming and pass them to the board (or voice them).

5.2.5 The circular gathering of ideas should continue until they are over.

(6) Organize similar ideas or solutions into groups.

Analysis of brainstorming decisions

Brainstorming ideas need to be evaluated against the criteria of simplicity, cost, control, and the ability to implement quickly. This will allow you to implement the fastest and most economical solutions. In analysing the decisions obtained, it is also necessary to exclude ideas that do not constitute effective countermeasures.

  • The solution to the penny problem should not cost a ruble. Simple and cheap solutions are good because they are a cost-effective way to eliminate the causes of small problems (of which there are usually many). This increases the return on invested capital. It is better to spend 5 kopecks on a problem that costs a dollars.

Brainstorming techniques can bring a lot of hard-to-implement ideas. And this is normal, since this tool is based on the principle that there can be no bad ideas, and the evaluation of the ideas themselves can be performed only after the brainstorming session is completed. However, solution analysis should be conducted in order to leave only viable solutions. To do this, it is proposed to answer a number of questions that allow you to understand how the solutions obtained meet the criteria, for example:

  • was the decision effective as a countermeasure?
  • what authority is required to implement this solution?
  • how quickly can i implement this solution?
  • what are the costs of implementing this solution?
  • how easy is it to implement this solution?

The use of these criteria for the analysis of solutions can significantly reduce the list of proposed solutions and leave only the most effective ones. If you can't agree on which one to implement with the remaining two or three solutions, it's a good idea to try all three (at least in a pilot version, if possible). However, before implementing the solution, it is necessary to make sure that it is effective (as far as possible). To do this, you need to set up an experiment or try to simulate a real situation with the implemented solution. Consider the example below.

Decisions that require additional measures subsequently or involve the participation of third parties delay the receipt of benefits. It often takes several weeks before the case is brought to an end. Always target the decision implementer for immediate possible improvement while the fundamental solution is still under discussion.

For example, we have the problem: "Unnecessary walking due to improper planning of the operator's working area in the workshop". One of the decisions made is to change the layout of the work area. In this case, you can involve a member of the brainstorming team and ask him to submit materials to the operator from another place - as if the redevelopment has already been completed. Thus, the real situation is simulated. But after checking all possible places of supply of the material, you will find the most convenient layout in terms of reducing losses. And only after that it will be possible to implement the adopted and the best decision to change the layout in the working area.

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