Device Makers—Don't Give Brainstorming a Bad Rap

Most people are not really knocking brainstorming. What they are criticizing is the results you can pull out of brainstorming.

October 1, 2014

3 Min Read
Device Makers—Don't Give Brainstorming a Bad Rap

 By Tom KraMer

Brainstorming is taking lots of heat lately.


Some suggest that “out loud” brainstorming favors the bold or other personalities who tend to dominate every meeting. Alternatives include brain-writing or brain-swarming, which focuses more on writing out your ideas so that extroverts cannot dominant introverts and hamper idea generation. Still others suggest that the brain doesn’t make connections in a rigid atmosphere, because there is too much pressure or politics for people to freely respond.


Most people are not really knocking brainstorming. What they are criticizing is the results you can pull out of brainstorming.


The key is how to filter out the good ideas into something actionable that has value. Effective filtering needs to have core elements such as well-defined design criteria, which enable each concept to be evaluated using a relevant rating system.


But the issues with brainstorming may encompass larger societal themes that are built into the underlying fabric of our society.


Henry Ford devised the assembly line—a very linear and mechanical process that was great for huge quantity throughput. Are we training our children in a similar fashion?


Research by Sir Ken Robinson and others point out that we might be pounding out the creativity from our kids. Some studies cite that 94% of kindergartener’s are divergent thinkers, but by the time they graduate college, only 3% are divergent thinkers.


And you know the story, many of you are living this story. If you are an engineer, you do X. If you are a marketing manager, you do Y. And if you are an accountant, you do Z. But only the marketing people are creative, because they are typically more right-brained that others.


However, you already know intuitively that this is not true.


Real brainstorming enables everyone to step out of their roles, to stop being pigeon holed as only one thing: an engineer or marketing manager or accountant. These departmental silos can prohibit real innovative thinking.


Acting from the creative side or the logical side of the brain has more to do with how a person is trained to approach their work—it’s more situational and relational. It is simply not true that only right-brained, creative types are good at brainstorming. And there is solid research to back this up.


A fresh look at brainstorming is needed.

Brainstorming isn’t the bad guy. And you will soon see that, no matter in what company silo you reside, you can brainstorm just as effectively as the next person.


Tom KraMer is hosting a workshop on Design Innovation and Ideation at MD&M Chicago on Oct. 16, 2014





Tom KraMer is the CEO of Kablooe Design and has been providing hands-on design services for medical device companies since 1992. He began to push Kablooe’s portfolio into medical device design more fully in 2000, and medical devices now represent over 75% of Kablooe’s project work. Tom has done personal hands-on design work, prototyping, research, testing, and engineering for manufacturing. He has over 23 years of experience designing products for manufacturing, and has a personal passion for user-driven devices. Contact him at [email protected]


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