Speed Storming (Brainstorming on Steroids)

Difficulty:  Moderate.
Audience:  People seeking ideas to address a problem or opportunity.
Suggested Time:  10 minutes.

There are many ways to spice up brainstorming, from getting people to type their input onto a common electronic whiteboard to getting people to rotate between different small groups at intervals.

I like to spice up brainstorming by asking people to do it really quickly.

The rules for Speed Storming are a lot like those for any brainstorming, but with tight deadlines.  You might wish to use a PC-based tool like the timer at www.online-stopwatch.com, or if you have a smartphone there will certainly be a timing app.

The rules are:

Identify the Topic
Be Positive
Admire others’ contributions
Make constructive suggestions
Build on Ideas
Pay attention to others’ input
Make suggestions that ‘grow’ ideas
Be Bold
Make BIG suggestions
Ignore costs
Say ‘I think we could …’
Or ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we …’
Instead of ‘Yes but’, say ‘Yes and’
Move Fast
Make a suggestion & move on
Take Note
A scribe writes the ideas down
(Number the suggestions)
Be Self-disciplined
Leaders go last
Everyone puts in 
Get Ready
Be clear on the topic
Assign a scribe & timekeeper
Select the Top 3 (only 3!)
List actions with due dates
Then you'll have 3 minutes to select your Top 3 & write brief action plans for each.

I have used this approach with students in an innovation lecture.  The topic I set is "Mobile phone batteries suck", and they tend to have lots of ideas to overcome or avoid this issue.

Image by Agripolare (no restrictions)
A risk with this approach is of course that there is no time for reflection, and the potential for responses resulting from reflection is diminished.  There is also a risk that people will not generate enough suggestions to make short-listing possible.  This has not been the case when I have used this method.  In fact, given the time-pressure (or perhaps due to it), it is amazing how many ideas can be produced.

This can be a great quick activity to get people to participate in small groups.