Brainstorming Session


The Game

I began by brainstorming types of games that help with brainstorming:
-Last Word

The game I made up is a version of scattergories. Instead of getting a letter and thinking up words based on different categories, they were to get a category and think up something for each letter of the alphabet. The person with the most original answers was the winner.


The participants were an almost even mix of boys and girls from my floor. Some were from Minnesota and others from different states, and everyone had a different major. They were: Sarah Brewer, Kelvin Wong, Taylor Hilbrant, Kayli Nagle, Haley Christensen, Ryan Mathison, and Brad Prom.

people writig.jpg
Left to right: Ryan Mathison, Kelvin Wong, and Sarah Brewer
writing down their ideas.

After the game, I gave them my first prompt, which was:

How might we make people feel happier in the winter?
This may have been too vague, because I got a very wide range of answers. Most of them were existing ideas and products.

There were 75 ideas in 10 minutes, making it about 1.07 ideas per person per minute.

I decided the second prompt should get them more focused on seasonal affective disorder:

How might we make a product that helps with seasonal depression?

brad and ideas.jpg
Brad Prom poses under the wall of ideas.

When they were running out of ideas, I told them to think of the worst ideas possible. They came up with things like "puppy decapitator" and "suicide machine"...simply lovely.

This time, there were 98 ideas in 20 minutes... Making in .7 ideas per person per minute. (The last 5 minutes people were barely writing any because they were "out")

Somehow, they still had off-topic answers like the first one. Most, if not all, were very silly. But that was okay.


I ended up with these categories:

Round One:


Round Two:
sortedd 2.jpg

Top 10
I asked people to vote for their favorite 3 ideas. Then, I selected 10 and made my own sketches.

1st Round - How might we make people happy in the winter?

1.) Sun Cat - Kelvin
sun cat.jpg

2.) Happiness App - Me
happy app.jpg

3.) Something shiny - Sarah
shiny stuff.jpg

4.) Winter Calendar with activities/quotes everyday - Me
winter calendar.jpg

5.) Fun with winter activities - Sarah
fun with winter activities.jpg

2nd Round - How might we create a product that helps seasonal affective disorder?

6.) Musical cup - Kelvin
music in cup.jpg

7.) Rainbow Machine - Haley
Rainbow machine.jpg

8.) Anti-Depression Ice Cream - Ryan
anti depression ice cream.jpg

9.) Sun-shaped vitamin D candy - Me
vitamin d candy.jpg

10.) Fake Sun - Kayli
Fake Sun.jpg

Honorable Mentions:
These weren't in the Top 10 ideas, but they're worth mentioning and discussing:
"Beating everyone else because we rock." (Brad) Though this was meant to be silly, it reminds me of what an interviewee said last week. He wants to feel a sense of accomplishment in the winter. I would like to find ways to make a game out of the product because people will use it more if there is an objective (like beating their friends).

"Summer simulator." (Ryan) This didn't have a sketch with it, and it was much too vague for me to make one for it. But I think if there's a way to simulate summer, whether it's in a location, in your room, or on your screen, that would be helpful.

"Talking to people." (Haley) This isn't a product, but social interaction is really important. Isolation is one of the major symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.

The amount of product ideas that came out of this session was disappointingly low, but I did get a pretty good idea of the things that make people happy. I'll find ways to incorporate those things into a product.

[[Edit: The ones without names were mine, so I added "Me" to them.]]



I like the warm-up game that you come up with, it helps to stretch the brains a bit before idea generation session, and I think it is a good choice for teams of people who know each other already. For people who don’t know each other, something more active might work better, when they can have eye contact and have more active interactions with each other.

The amount of generated ideas is impressive, though you’ve mentioned that few of them were ideas of product, I think it is fine as long as you’ve got insights applicable to the project.

I think it is a good idea to redraw sketches of the participants, because some of them can be really vague, and there might be some issues with bad handwriting. Also, all your drawings look uniform in this case, which makes them more legible. The only comment to your images is that some of the ideas have names of participants, and some don’t.

I like the warm up game that you came up with, it would definitely help to have a more physical aspect to it - just to help everyone get out of their comfort zone and interact with each other.

Wow, you guys developed so many ideas which is pretty great and definitely good to reference back to if you get stuck! I was laughing pretty hard at the sun cat, I would definitely appreciate that! You really took on the job as facilitator to make sure that the group was first inspired by suggesting that they think of the worst ideas and also trying to keep them on the topic of seasonal depression

Great idea redrawing the sketches and labeling the categories using a software. It really brings a better design to the blog post.

I like your variant of Scattergories - that would definitely stretch the brain! I do find myself wishing that you had a stronger photograph of the group and a stronger hierarchy for the text in your post - perhaps using all caps for important titles would help.

Your how might we questions seem almost identical. I think you would have gotten better, more useful ideas if one of them had been more specific. Seasonal Affective Disorder could have addressed by looking at specific causes and then working on just one or two of them. Some of the ideas generated seem too generic to be useful, although the rainbow machine and artificial sun are interesting.

Definitely a solid blog post overall!

Perhaps a picture of all 7 of the participants would have been nice.
I think a short bio/description of each participant would have been helpful to give us an idea of the groups diverse backgrounds.

I was under the impression that this was supposed to be done with two different problem statements. What you used seems to be two versions of the same problem statement with one being an adjustment of the other.

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This page contains a single entry by carl4648 Nicole Carlson published on November 17, 2013 11:00 PM.

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