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Chauncey Wilson is a User Experience Architect at Autodesk, Inc., and Adjunct Lecturer in the Human Factors and Information Design Program at Bentley University. Chauncey has spent over 30 years as a usability practitioner, development manager, lab director, usability manager, and mentor. He recently, completed a book, “Brainstorming and Beyond,” about ideation methods for UX practitioners.
When a group wants to generate ideas for a new product or to solve a problem, you will usually hear the clarion call, “Let’s brainstorm!” You assemble a group, spell out the basic ground rules for brainstorming (no criticism, wild ideas are welcome, focus on quantity, combine ideas to make better ideas) and then have people yell out ideas one at a time.
Brainstorming is often the method of choice for ideation, but it is fraught with problems that range from participants’ fear of evaluation to the serial nature of the process — only one idea at a time. Brainwriting is an easy alternative or a complement to face-to-face brainstorming, and it often yields more ideas in less time than traditional group brainstorming.