Assignment #4

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Our assignment this week was to take our two problem statements and turn then into prompts to drive a brainstorming session. My two problems were related to how long cashier lines take to check out with you items, as well as how crowded aisles are during the busy holiday shopping rush. From these, my prompts became:

"There needs to be a better/quicker way to check out with your items"


"There needs to be a better way to maneuver more easily through crowded holiday shopping aisles."

These drove the brainstorming sessions I facilitated.

I gathered together some of my brothers to start generating some ideas. Silly ones, real ones, good ones, bad ones. Anything to keep the ideas flowing and the creative juices at work. Most of them were nonsensical, such as The Sorting Sombrero that when placed upon your head, decided what you would be buying his holiday season.

< The Sorting Sombrero

Together, Tyler, George, Matt, Sam, Wyatt, Andrew, and Dylan came up with some pretty crazy ideas for both prompts. Here are some notes that I observed while they brainstormed:

-I held it in the main room of the house, where most of the social interaction happens normally, so It was a very comfortable environment for everyone.

-People tended to build off of other people's thoughts and ideas

-Everyone seems to compliment and discuss each other's ideas when they shared them

-There's application of other real-world things related to the prompts (for example, allusions to Harry Potter, or similar techniques that fraternity parties use to control crowds)

-They became quite fond of the 'come up with bad ideas' spin on brainstorming



That wasn't the only part of the assignment. We also had to create a new creative tool/game to keep the creativity rolling when the ideas became stretched thin. I used some brain writing techniques to come up with words I associate with the word "improv." I settled on random, funny, and quick. With this came the new game, "Uncle Jack!" The rules are as follows:

1. This is a competition. A competition about who's Uncle Jack is more awesome. Didn't know you had an Uncle Jack? Strange. Because you do.
2. The 2 players take turns going back and forth saying why their Uncle Jack is more awesome in the form of "Well my Uncle Jack...." or something of the kind. Each time a player takes too long to think of a reason to counteract why their Uncle Jack is better than the reason their opponent gave for why THEIR Uncle Jack is better, or if they get caught up laughing, they get buzzed out and a new person fills their place. Similar to the Who's Line is it Anyway's game where they're only allowed to speak in questions. Here are some of my favorite reasons why the players' Uncle Jack is so much better than the rest:

My Uncle Jack married a shark.
My Uncle Jack had an affair with your uncle's shark-wife, Mrs. Uncle Jack.
My Uncle Jack is Batman.
My Uncle Jack will find you.
My Uncle Jack ate my parents for no reason.


My Uncle Jack. >

The guys really seemed to like it! The bonding aspect that developed between the brainstorming and the game was really fun to watch unfold. I tried to have the group sort and favorite ideas that they thought were the best, but no one seemed to take that part seriously and only voted for the more...inappropriate ones. Ultimately, from all the ideas, there were a few that stuck out in particular.

When asked how to thin the holiday crowds, there was mentioned:

1. Tear Gas.

2. Having the store layout be like a grocery store rather than retail.

3. Drive Thru Shopping.

4. Laned/Roped-off Aisles.

5. Having thinner aisles, but more of them that repeat items.

Some of the better ideas for how to make check out lines go faster were:

1. More checkout lines scattered all over the store, not just at the front.

2. Cashiers with 6 arms.

3. Smart-Carts that know what you've put in them and create a running tally.

4. Incentivize cashiers based on how many people they get through their lane.

5. Simply have more competent employees working.

These were just a few that although may seem somewhat silly, could hold details that may become the basis of a real product. It will be interesting to see what comes of this nonsense.


1 Comment


First off, while you prompts are quite strong, it may be beneficial to you to change them into "how might we" statements as per the assignment, this gets the participants in a more creative questioning mindset.

Your made-up improv game sounds awesome, plenty of opportunities for creativity.

I also see that your participants drew many sketches to go with their designs, it would be nice to see these in your blog (also as per the assignment). Visual representations help the reader get a better idea of of the products and help put the ideas across.


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This page contains a single entry by wilmk035 published on November 18, 2013 1:05 AM.

Assignment #3 was the previous entry in this blog.

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