The survey indicated that engineers participated in 4 to 80 brainstorms in the past year (mean = 24); 31 of 37 respondents facilitated a brainstorm in the past year, with a range of 2 to 20 (mean = 6).
A facilitator organizes a brainstorm by first compiling a list of participants with pertinent and complementary skills and then inviting them over e-mail, in person, or by phone to attend.
After a brainstorm, facilitators photograph the board and collect sketches and lists from participants, which they use to write a brainstorming report and to guide their subsequent work.
Even when a brainstorm is about an industry in which IDEO is experienced (like laptop computers or vacuum cleaners) or is held later in a project, it almost always begins with the facilitator or client teaching participants about the product and the design challenge to generate ideas about.
First, they are stored in the minds of designers who attend and hear about a brainstorm. Second, products and prototypes acquired for, brought to, and built in brainstorms are kept and then used to design future products.
An invitation to a brainstorm means spending an hour or two generating ideas to help designers on another project.
The way that designers felt about their work and IDEO during and after a brainstorm, however, were also important effectiveness outcomes in this context.
A brainstorm also sets the stage for organizers to get help from others after the meeting adjourns.
During a brainstorm on Smith ski goggles, for example, a comment by one designer inspired a sketch by another, which was then redrawn several times by other designers who changed, added, and deleted features during each iteration.
Designers may make suggestions after a brainstorm because they are unhappy with their creativity during the session.
We first heard this argument when an informant said: "You know, even if designers are a little faster working alone than in a brainstorm, it is faster for the guy who calls it or for the client." The first five to 30 minutes of a brainstorm are spent explaining the problem to participants.
From the perspective of a person using a brainstorm to gather ideas, however, greater productivity is not a fallacy.