Brain Storming

brain storm

What is Brain Storming?

  • Powerful tool for design teams
  • Used to generate ideas in a group
  • Can be used on any sub-problem
  • It is best after knowing the main design requirements


Ground Rules

  • Relax
  • Have fun
  • Support not criticize
  • No boundaries
  • Completely free your mind
  • No limits on the number of ideas
  • Fragmented ideas OK
  • Just keywords OK
  • No criticizing (during or after)
  • No evaluating or dismissing
  • No dismissing EVEN your own ideas
  • No “You must be joking” looks or comments
  • Explain quickly (few seconds)
  • No questions
  • Let ideas you don’t understand go
  • Speed is the key
  • Important is “Association” not “Viability
  • Avoid subtle evaluations
    • How is it going to do …
    • Isn’t this violating the rules
    • That is an excellent idea
    • How is this different than that idea
  • Select a moderator
  • No dominating
  • No interrupting
  • No passing
  • Short session (20 minutes)
  • Create ideas in silence
  • Multiple rounds


Phase I: Idea Purge Phase

  • The objective is declared.
  • Many ideas written rapidly on sheet of paper.
  • There is a relaxation break after two minutes.
  • The process continues for another minute.


Phase II: Idea Trigger Phase

  • Leader calls each member for their ideas.
  • Team members cross out shared ideas.
  • Each idea as read may trigger other ideas in other members who write them down quickly on a second page.
  • After the first round, the members repeat the reading process for the second sheet and more until no new ideas are triggered.


Phase III: Compilation

  • Members compile and classify ideas into a master list and distribute it.



  • Work alone to create more ideas.
  • Meet and selects promising ideas.
  • 3-5 promising ideas are developed in more detail listing pros and cons using a trade study to document decision.


Idea Selection

  • Team will down select to 1 design to be engineered.
  • Team members identify critical sub-systems and hold brainstorming sessions on such sub-systems.
  • See the trade study page for more for details


Additional Resources