Brainstorming - warm up exercises

Postby engio » May 3rd, 2010, 3:10 am


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Can you share your favorite brain warm up exercises? Especially some that will work with non-designers.

To post some examples myself:

Circles - as demonstrated by Tim Brown at TED. A paper is pre-filled with ~50 empty circles, and distributed to the participants. Participants should transform as many of those as possible into objects (fishbowl, wheel, glasses) in a short amount of time.

Different uses - pick an object and let everyone come up with possible uses for it, quantity over quality. For example, if the object is a scotch tape, one could technically create a hat from it. Or if it's a CD one could use them as flashy earrings.

Re: Brainstorming - warm up exercises

Postby mrtwills » May 3rd, 2010, 8:20 am

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Whatever method you choose, I would say write everything down. There should be no editing in the beginning brain storm process, that's for later. You might think of something that seems way in left field but it gives someone else an idea that works.

Re: Brainstorming - warm up exercises

Postby Lmo » May 3rd, 2010, 11:23 am

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I would say write everything down.


I would add; do not write down your notes from-top-to-bottom of the page ... i.e. jot down your notes all over the page(s) and at different angles so that they become "random".

Re-connect the dots once you have collected all of the comments made during the discussion; circle comment(s) and associate them with others with a connecting line(s).
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Re: Brainstorming - warm up exercises

Postby engio » May 3rd, 2010, 11:44 am


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Thank you both for the comments, but I'm actually looking for some exercises to kick of the session. I'm talking about 5-10min stuff to get into the mood, open minds, and get comfortable with spitting out crazy wacky ideas. I think I actually want that exercise to be unrelated to the problems/product we will be discussing.

As I implied it's for non-designers, a group of 5 people that have not worked together a lot, particularly not in this way. I'm certain most of them are quite skeptical, so I want it to be fun. Surely someone has to know what I'm talking about?

Re: Brainstorming - warm up exercises

Postby cg » May 3rd, 2010, 12:44 pm

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Jump Start your Brain says that if should show a funny video first, they'll generate more ideas. Actually, his whole deal is that you should throw in any kind of random stimulus to get people to be more creative--magazine clippings, words, whatever. I think it's because it activates associative logic, which we're well trained with.

His book has a ton of exercises aimed at generating ideas.

Re: Brainstorming - warm up exercises

Postby yo » May 3rd, 2010, 1:05 pm

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I try to have them offsite whenever possible for this reason. New environment = automatic new stimuli everywhere.

Re: Brainstorming - warm up exercises

Postby sprockets » May 4th, 2010, 4:01 pm

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Snacks. Snacks are important. In Emotional Design by Don Norman, a study by Alice Isen (et al) is mentioned. The results of the study say that people think "outside of the box" better when they have just received a small gift. Nothing bg, just something that makes them feel good.

Food is huge in our office -- especially things that are not daily things. Provide cupcakes or a box of chocolates or some pie or whatever.

Good luck.
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