Product Design: Lessons from IDEO

The Perfect Brainstorm

Brainstorming is practically a religion at IDEO, one they practice nearly every day.


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IDEO Tom Kelley creativity innovation quotes

Make brainstorming a religion. The buzz of a good brainstormer can infect a team with optimism and sense of opportunity.

Tom Kelley




"The buzz of a good brainstormer can infect a team  with optimism and sense of opportunity that can carry it through the darkest and most pressure-tinged stages of the project... Though brainstorms themselves are often playful, brainstorming as a tool as a skill is taken quite seriously," says Tom Kelly.

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In a company without many rules, IDEO people have a very firm idea about what constitutes a brainstorm and how it should be organized:

Duration: Sixty minutes in an optimum length. The level of physical and mental energy required for a brainstorm is hard to sustain much longer than that.


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Don'ts: "Brainstorming sessions aren't presentations or opportunities for the boss to poll the troops for hot ideas. Nor should they feel like work. And brainstorming is most definitely not about spending thousands of dollars at some glamorous off-site location."




Idea engine: "Brainstorming is the idea engine of IDEO's culture. It is an opportunity for teams to "blue sky" ideas early in a project or to solve a tricky problem that's cropped up later on. The more productive the group, the more it brainstorms regularly and effectively."



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