Creative Learning

by ASHLEY LOGAN BRENNER

We always need to keep our desire to learn alive. I’ve been reading several articles recently about brainstorming—good or not so good?

Good.

In context of creative learning, you can always learn new ideas and processes from others. Keeping your mind open to alternate concepts helps to keep creatively nimble.

Brainstorming can be effective when there is a focused goal and a clear timeframe. What do you want the team to achieve? How much time do you have to think it through? No ideas are bad ideas.

Ultimately brainstorming is concerned with generating ideas—the spark. Used at the correct time in a process, it can be effective. However, when used throughout a process, not so good.

Not so good.

Coming to an action with design decisions is not truly a group activity. Group think doesn’t do justice to a strong end result. It lacks focus and momentum. Creative thinking is more web-like—one thought leads to another, instead of a group staying directed on one path.

Singular focus on one or two ideas makes the end result stronger. Details can be thought out and a quality outcome emerges with a point of focus.

Instead of a group, individuals have the opportunity to listen and then respond appropriately. To hear the questions and then respond to the How of a problem. Focused design thinking drives to quality outcomes.

Using Design Thinking AND Brainstorming
Within a process, design thinking and brainstorming can activate each other. Brainstorming can become part of your process—I would suggest it is the spark. For example, at Imprint, our team uses brainstorming at the kickoff phase of a project. This is a great time to get ideas out on the table. As the process to any project moves through the paces, design thinking (and evaluating) becomes more critical at different stages. This process preserves the relevant information to a project, and upholds the quality in results. And THAT benefits clients.

Here’s a short process of valuable brainstorming, and how you can use it:

1. New project : The sky’s the limit
Dialogue for 15 minutes about all possibilities. Creating without fear of failure allows for experimentation. For example, riff off a singular topic (health care) and apply the business objectives. What are the possibilities? No ideas are bad ideas.

2. Sort
Apply some parameters to your list. “How will these possibilities benefit the project?” Listen carefully to the intention for the outcome. We want to produce solutions that keep us leaping forward.

3. Design independently
Keep the creative learning alive. Take the possibilities and apply critical design thinking. Address the details and map the thinking back to project objectives. Focus.

How do you think brainstorming can be effective in the design process?

Here’s a link to another perspective on this subject:
Chuck Green’s PagePlane Blog on Brainstorming

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