Dear Sir or Madam,

Welcome to my assignment four blog post.

My brainstorming group consisted of five people besides myself. Unfortunately, though I had every intent to do so, I forgot to take pictures of them.

  • Luka: Photographer and digital artist
  • Carrie: Part-time MBA and full time project manager/consultant
  • Andrew: Physics PhD student
  • Chelsea: Former Chemist, currently High School teacher

I decided to make up to improv games. I had two which both were really fun and worked out well.

My Beetle

The group goes around a circle describing a "beetle" they have. The first person describes their beetle with and action. The next person repeats the previous persons action and the does their own. The next person then takes only the previous action and adds on and so on.


"My beetle likes dancing."
"My beetle likes dancing and stroking his beard."
"My beetle likes stroking his beard and watching Youtube."

I got the idea of this game from a philosophy lecture I heard where the professor talked about ideas. Imagine if every person has a box with something in it they call a "beetle" but they never see anyone else's. The thing in the box could be something different for each person but we all still call it a beetle.

Excuses Game

This game was really simple. As a group, we decided what we needed to be excused from, in this case my brain storming session. Then we went around and each person came up with a reason why they couldn't come. We went a few times around. The excuses went from mundane to ridiculous. My guests started building off each other's excuses which was fun too.

"I couldn't come because there was a T-Rex rampaging on the bridge"
"I couldn't come because the traffic in Minneapolis was even worse than usual due to the T-Rex"
"I couldn't come because I lost my T-Rex"

The Session

The method I used for brainstorming was similar to what we did in class. Each person had their own color, drew and wrote their idea, and said it out loud. However, I had ordinary note cards and we tossed them in the middle of our circle. Everyone sat on the floor in a circle due to space restraints. We also took a break in between sessions to eat.

The first question was based on my problem statement:

Andrew, Troy, Chris, Keesha, and Anna all need a way to keep their coffee warm longer because it cools off before they finish drinking it.

How might we keep a warm drink hotter longer while still being pleasant to drink?

In this idea session, it was interesting to see which people came up with which ideas. Andrew and Chelsea came up with some very interesting chemistry based ideas or ideas involving unusual physical properties. Luka tended to come up with silly ideas that made the group laugh. Carrie and I came up with the most ideas.

We averaged about 0.42 ideas per minute for the 20 minute session.


  • Wearable heaters
  • Devices which heat coffee as it enters your mouth
  • Heating technologies which involve a plug
  • Coffee shop based heating methods
  • Chemical heating
  • Double walled/highly insulated coffee mugs
  • Coverings and sleeves for mugs
  • Alternative energy coffee mug heaters

We then spread out the ideas and voted, making sure that the duplicated ideas would get one vote per idea. I decided to include the top voted ideas rather than my favorites. There were a few ties, so used my best judgement for those.
Green Stars are useful, and purple stars are creative.

car heat.jpg
Carrie and Andrew came up with the same idea
battery cup.jpg
Carrie and I came up with the same idea
coffee stones.jpg

The second was based on a problem statement from just one of my interviews. It was more challenging but also interesting because of that.

Troy needs a way to instill the pride in the art of coffee in new employees because the automatic machines make it harder to know what makes a good cup of coffee.

How might we inspire a love of making coffee in baristas as well as ordinary folks?

I had given the group several problem statements to choose from, and this one seemed the most interesting. I think the group mostly had fun with coming up with strange things rather than practical ones. There was also a lot of overlap between ideas which happened at the same time. I thought this was interesting. Luka and Andrew seemed the most conformable with goofy ideas, and Chelsea seemed the most self conscious. Carrie drew upon her business background a lot.

We averaged about 0.42 ideas per minute for the 20 minute session.


  • Menu changes
  • Barista competitions
  • Use trained judges to provide feedback
  • Hire only passionate and qualified talent
  • Have various taste testing days
  • Provide instructional materials
  • Have special training
  • Use robots/technology to brew or determine the perfect cup of coffee
  • Encourage the use of manual machines
  • Provide a unique and inspiring work environment

The procedure for picking out ideas was the same as previously. Again, I am posting the top voted ideas rather than my favorites or the most practical.

barista trauma.jpg

I got a scanner this week! Hooray! As for the handwriting... your guess is as good as mine.


You certainly followed the appropriate format, congratulations! You did more than many others did in terms of that.
I think your first round went really well for everyone. The designs presented here are varied, and draw upon multiple backgrounds. I can see the influence of the physics major in some of this. I think that this idea session could have benefited from some of the other rounds we did in class. Maybe the random word association or the bad ideas round would have been a way to get you IPM up.
I'm less impressed with your second round. I think the ideas here really do need some work before any of them can be viable, except for maybe the one on one training. If you're looking to improve these ideas in the next assignment, I would recommend reading The Design of Everyday Things, or looking at some basic systems design to figure out how you can modify existing training.

I really like the way you introduce your blog to the reader. Throughout the blog you really keep the reader interested as well. Great job with that.
The organization of your blog is also really impressive and your formatting of the pictures and separating different ideas is really well done.
The ideas that you came up with through the brainstorming process are really impressive and really very practical product modifications that would make winter a lot easier.
The game you came up with was really clever and sounded like a lot of fun!
One thing you could potentially improve upon is developing more new and silly ideas so you can work off some really bizarre parts of one idea and in some way make another really awesome! :)
Really great job on this assignment.

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This page contains a single entry by kami0085 published on November 16, 2013 4:08 PM.

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