Family Gathering Brainstorming


So just to recap here are two of the problems that I developed in my last blog post. I choose these two out of the four that I had.

1. How might we recount and share family narratives during family gatherings in a way that is engaging and meaningful.

2. How might we encourage newer and older generations to both share their stories and reconnect in an engaging manner in order to develop a stronger inter-generational self, increase family stability, and develop stronger bonds even with extended family.

In my last blog post I mentioned one of the things I regretted was not interviewing any adults to get their perspective on family gatherings, so for this week I had my parents join in the brainstorming. The other six people were all members of the Digital Art Studio, as you might notice later on in some of the ideas there were a fair amount of creative drawing and digital games that came up.

In total I had 8 people including myself in the brainstorming session.

We started out playing a few improve games for about a solid twenty minutes, though I made sure to restate the problems in the beginning of the session.

The first improve game was "samurai" which our class played a few lectures ago. At first it was a little rough coordinating and timing but as the game progressed and more people made more eye contact clearer body motions and the attacks got faster
The second game we played was "Look at me". We went around the circle each time before we changed any motions and we got some interesting actions from flesh eating zombie to churning butter.


The third and final game which I made up was inspired by a random drawing game and Pictionary. Since we were in stss there were large drawing boards. I took advantage of this layout. First everyone would start on their own board and draw a random shape, then shortly after everybody rotated to the next board and had to make that previous random drawing into something by adding onto the random part left behind. Before anybody moved on to the next board they had to leave behind a new random mark for the next person to add on to. This continued for six rotations so we didn't get a chance to come full circle, time was running out and I didn't want to keep people to long so brainstorming had to begin.

Below are some of the masterpieces that came out.

board 2.jpg

board 3.jpg

board 6.jpg

board 7.jpg



To be honest it wasn't until the brainstorm session that I realized both problems sounded very similar. To make up for this I decided to switch it to sharing family narratives and stories and how can we get old and younger generations to interact more. Their certainly could be some overlap but there was more separation now. I decided to have people brain storm ideas for both how might me problem statements since there could be some overlap; the brainstorming lasted for a total of forty minutes.


We started off by doing an open brainstorm session in which everybody had to write/draw out ideas and then state it before posting it on the wall. I liked this technique because it was a great way to start building off of ideas and giving people confidence in their ideas because people listened. Unfortunately, it hit me how hard it is to come up with new ideas and listen at the same time. As a brainstorming facilitator I should have made it clearer that ideas should be explained rather quickly. It wasn't a big deal and in some instances it helped, but it did somewhat bog people down. In addition, I was a bit cheap with the brainstorming cards. I don't know if the posted note cards were too small but occasionally I found people cramming in sentences rather than pictures, once again not a huge deal now but later on it made it harder to vote or just overlook.

The last part of the brainstorming session I wanted to make more fluid. This time people would write down ideas and post them to their right. The next person could write down their own ideas or look to their left (were the other person had their ideas laid out) for inspiration and build off of them. 10 minutes in we presented each of our ideas.
At the end of the session we had about 1.5 ideas per minute and so roughly .3 ideas per minute per person. Not a large ratio, there are opportunities for improvement in my brainstorming facilitation. It might have been better to give a clearer set of rules in the beginning. Also not everybody in the session was primed earlier in the week with the how might we statements. Only a few that I knew would be coming came in with some time to think beforehand.

Next we silently ordered the ideas for five minutes and voted on them. A green sticker represented most creative ideas and pink represented ideas people think they would like to implement (although I didn't make it very clear if they had to be feasible or not). Each person had five votes with each color.

Below are 5 ideas for family narrative prompt then the inter-generational interaction prompt. There wasn't a clear best five for the second prompt since a lot had the same number of votes.
The one above could be used for either prompt.


From the one above you can tell the idea was expanded upon and passed around.



Next prompt



idea 9.jpg
Recipes cook together and learn old family dishes


idea 11.jpg

So the brainstorming session was definitely successful and I'm just going to shout out and say thanks to the people that came to the session I really appreciate you!

a couple of things I learned that maybe I could improve on.

-Ask EVERYBODY to bring in ideas or make sure to have a clear prompt laid out for everyone

-State the guidelines for session more clearly

-Find way to more seamlessly transition from group brainstorming to more individual brainstorming.


Good idea to use the STSS building. It’s a great environment for a brainstorming session – lots of space, white boards, and round tables. Good job taking advantage of this layout also while playing your games.
I like how you adjusted your “How Might We” question a little during your session. While the statements are still quite similar, you adjusted the focus of the second one to the interaction between older and younger people instead of focusing on simply the sharing of narratives. This adjustment probably cleared things up a little with your brainstormers.
I appreciate that you discussed some of the things you learned about facilitating brainstorming sessions. This is a learning process that’s crucial to becoming a better facilitator, and overall becoming a better designer.
Instead of simply labeling ‘next prompt’ before you showed the pictures, it would’ve been nice if you reminded the reader what exactly that prompt is. I found myself scrolling up and finding it and then scrolling back down to find my place again. It would be nice if I didn’t have to interrupt my reading flow with scrolling up to find out what exactly the ‘next prompt’ is.
I think overall you received a lot of ideas that are good but not necessarily products. It’s almost like you could take one of their ideas, such as “Most embarrassing moment story time” and turn it into its own “How might we” statement. From there you can brainstorm about “how someone might tell stories”. That was probably your intent with the brainstorming session and maybe, like you said, you just needed to explain the rules a little better. Perhaps simplifying your statements more would also guide the brainstorming session more towards creating products instead of creating good ideas that seem to be “how might we statements” in themselves.

I really like how you reflected and concluded with notes on what you are taking away from this assignment, as well as things you could improve upon.

Something I would point out right away is that your two "how might we..." statements seem very similar, and this is something you dealt with later on in your post. I like that you changed it up to encouraging telling stories, and connecting older and younger generations. I think maybe the low IPM number resulted from having the small post-its, as well as maybe not having enough direction. It seems like the ideas were more about what to do to pass the time rather than product innovations. Going forward maybe think about what type of product could trigger family conversation, or help facilitate the bond between young and old.

Great idea to use the whiteboards for a warm-up activity that included drawing!

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This page contains a single entry by hafte004 published on November 18, 2013 9:41 AM.

Family Gatherings was the previous entry in this blog.

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