As a quick recap from last week's blog, two of my problem statements were:

My dad's customers need a way to protect their carpets safely because using too many floor mats can interfere with the gas and brake pedals.

Tom needs a way to clear his windshield in an emergency because driving with limited visibility is scary.

From there, I developed the "How might we" statements:

"How might we protect car carpets?"

"How might we clear windshields of ice and snow quickly?"

I had 4 people participate in my focus group [left to right]:
Tom - a Finance and Supply Chain major
Will - a Chemical Engineering major
Matt - a Chemical Engineering major
and Ryan - a Marketing and Entrepreneurship major


I let them know ahead of time what the areas we would be focusing on were and asked them to start thinking about ideas. I also let them know that pizza would be provided.

After everyone was well fed and happy, I laid out the guidelines for the activity:
1. No passing judgement on any of the ideas
2. Feel free to come up with ideas that you don't think are possible
3. Everything must be written on a note card with a picture

I set the timer for 20 minutes and started on the first prompt. I didn't give a lot of background information on why I had chosen this problem statement because I wanted to give everyone a chance to take it in whatever direction they chose. As we progressed, I revealed a little bit more of the information and enlightened them as to why this was a real problem and posed a safety threat to some drivers.

All of my participants were incredibly mindful of the no judgement rule. Almost everyone at some point expressed frustration at having to draw out their ideas, so I encouraged them to keep the visual representations really simple and reminded them that it was just to easily keep track of the ideas.


The second brainstorming session seemed to go much quicker. Everyone grew more confident about building off of each others' ideas. We had a couple repeated ideas, but we just acknowledged them and kept moving forward. I imagined that calling someone out for repeating something would have about the same effect as criticism, and it was valuable to know which ideas multiple people thought of anyway. As I went on, I revised the "How might we" statement to be "How might we quickly increase visibility for drivers" since I realized that clearing the windshield might not be the only solution to this problem.

When the ideas started to stall out a bit, I encouraged the group to think of the most ridiculous ways they could solve the problem - we ended up with a few drawing of a tiny man hiding in your car to dry your shoes, but later on, we had an idea for a machine that would do the same thing. We laughed about a few of them, and it freed up our minds to think of more out of the box ideas.

I also utilized the improv game that I came up with for this assignment. I thought about a couple different factors when I was creating the game. What makes an improv game an improv game anyway? What makes my favorite games my favorite? I decided that I liked "Clams are Great" and the tossing a ball around game we played in class. I made a little list of considerations:

-spontaneous response
-building on others' ideas
-changing the direction of an idea
-passing the "speaker" position around
-relatively simple

Now this list is certainly not all inclusive, but it seemed like enough to get me started. The rules for the game I created based on this list are as follows:

1. The game will start with a color [For example: green] and this person will point to someone else
2. The second person will say the first thing they think of associated to that color [grass] and point to a third person.
3. This person will say the first related word that comes to mind [bugs] and point to the next person.
4. This person will say a word that is both related to that word and related to a color (red, green, blue, or yellow) that hasn't been said yet [ladybug] and point to the next person
5. This person will say the related color and point to the next person.
6. The process repeats until all of the colors have been said.

After we had brainstormed for 20 minutes on each "How might we" prompt, we silently sorted them into categories. For the "clean car" prompt, the categories we came up with were:

1. Cleaning Services
2. Preventing slush from leaving shoes
3. Eliminating shoe wetness inside the car
4. Better surfaces to resist damage from winter conditions
5. Alternate places for dirty shoes


For the "visibility" prompt the categories were:

1. Improved scrapers
2. Easier frost/snow/ice removal surfaces
3. Camera systems
4. Removable layers
5. Heated snow removal technology


We used some fun sticky flags to vote for our favorites (green) and the most useful/valuable (red).


Our collective ideas per minute were:

2.0 for "clean"


1.75 for "visibility"

The ten "best" product ideas are as follows:



alternate shoes.jpg[Matt]


shoe covers.jpg[Ryan]

pump with tubes.jpg[Matt]


nonstick surface.jpg[Will]

hidden covers.jpg[Matt]

UV light defroster.jpg[Will]

windshield camera.jpg[Naomi]

wiper heaters.jpg[Ryan]


You did a great job recording in detail how you set up your brainstorming session and how it progressed. It was specifically helpful of you to include where you revised your second how might we statement. This shows that you were thinking on your feet, and evolving your session to get the most out of your group.

You captured your entire session very well, from recording your invented game in detail to noting how quickly the group came up with ideas for each session. Your images are all clean and formatted correctly, fitting smoothly into your blog post. The only formatting tip I have for you is try adding some hierarchy to your text. Adding different sizes and emphasis could help quickly differentiate titles and copy text.

You could try adding titles to each idea, possibly with a small description so that the reader who was not there for the brainstorming session could better understand each sketch.

I think you did an excellent job of describing your brainstorming session and the mood of the group. You did a great job with documenting the process. I felt like I got to know people a bit in the group, which was really beneficial in reading the blog post.

I really don't have much to say by way of critique except that it's a bit unclear which idea belongs to whom. I figured out that the bottom name goes with the idea, but using spacing or another similar means would have been helpful. While your images are very clear, all of them have an edge that could easily be cropped out. That's just being nit-picky though.

Overall, I enjoyed seeing your session and what you wrote.

You did a very good job. I like the way the document is organized and how the brainstorming session was proceeded. You also documented things that you thought did not seem the only solution to the problems, and avoiding some general terms of fixed ideas over the course of the brainstorming session was I think really a key to the innovative solution. I thought it was really a good start when you utilized your own improv game between the brainstorming sessions. It must have helped your friends a lot to come up with many new ideas later. I wish I could have utilized my improv game in the way you did.

One suggestion from me is that you may want to add some descriptions of each product because some of the ideas were a little bit unclear for me.

Overall, your assignment of brainstorming was very clearly documented and organized. I was very glad to go over your blog. Nice work.

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This page contains a single entry by ocho0037 published on November 18, 2013 12:25 AM.

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