I got together a small group to brainstorm on the subject of Snow and ice removal last weekend.
Sam: A Statistics major from Carlton.
Andy: A software engineer.
Terry: A mechanical engineer.
Renee and Adam: My parents, a Lawyer and a Musician, who decided to join us.
Myself: A local product-design enthusiast.
To get everyone warmed up, I created a game called Pitchmen, in which people had 30 seconds to come up with a quick commercial for their pad of post-it notes. The catch, however, was that they had to come up with an entirely new use for the product. A couple of the highlights from the night were stick-on anti-snow dog covers, and Pocket Papercut, a portable self-defense tool.
With everyone in a silly mood, I explained the rules of the brainstorm. Fifteen minutes, no criticisms, draw ideas AND write titles, announce your ideas to the group. People mostly followed the rules. Mostly...
The prompts I gave them were as follows:
How might we make the process of snow removal easier or more pleasant?
How might we create a universal tool for clearing different types of snow?
A quick break to review the ideas, and it was time to do voting. I handed everyone 6 hat-shaped post-it notes and told them to write C on half of them, and P on the other half, for Creative and Practical. They then picked their top 5 choices for most creative and most practical idea.
After voting, the ideas were sorted to reveal the top 5 in each category.
They are as follows:
Dog Treat Snow Spray - Austin and Andy
Strangely enough, Andy and I came up with and announced this idea at the exact same time. A meat-flavored liquid is sprayed into the sidewalk which attracts dogs to come and eat the snow.
Heated Sidewalk Tiles - Renee
Similar to a hot-pack, these tiles can store heat energy, and are then placed on a stretch of sidewalk before an impending blizzard. Snow will melt on contact instead of piling up. After the storm, simply lift the tiles up and shake any ice from the melt water off into the yard to reveal a dry, snow-free sidewalk.