Technical writing: brainstorming definition
Good tech writers bring more than the ability to create documents that meet the client’s goal. Very often, the writer is part of a team that develops entire concepts and campaigns. The writer is expected to take an active role in the process.
An opportunity to participate is to be in a brainstorming session. Some people confused a brainstorming session with a bull session when people sit down and say whatever comes to mind. There are big differences between the two. The biggest difference is that brainstorming is meant to produce valuable ideas. This is not the time to express random thoughts and tell stories.
A brainstorming session is a group of people who are involved or interested in a specific topic. They meet to present ideas and, more importantly, to draw on the ideas of others in the session. The value of the exchange is that ideas generate other ideas. The directions in which none of the participants thought individually become clear when the participation of many people is stimulated and expanded by the discussion. The goal of a brainstorming session is to develop some workable ideas that can become the basis for dealing with a situation or moving forward with a project.
Unlike a bullfighting session, a brainstorming session has a clear structure and rules. Both must be understood and followed by everyone. If there is any doubt that not all participants understand them, they should be presented orally or as a handout before the session begins. Then they must be enforced during the session. It is a repository of free-form brains, but it has structure and rules.
· Brainstorming sessions work well with five to ten participants. Too few and not enough information. Too many and not enough time for everyone to participate.
There should be a time limit set for the session. Small groups can often accomplish a lot in an hour or so. However, even with large groups, three hours is practically the upper limit.
A person is designated as facilitator. The facilitator indicates the purpose of the session and establishes the guidelines. It is also the responsibility of this person to keep the session moving on time and on track.
One person designs the scribe. It is the responsibility of this person to capture all the ideas and write them down.
The facilitator and the scribe are part of the discussion.
1. The objective is the quantity, not the quality, of the ideas; as many ideas as possible from all participants.
2. Ideas should be short and simple enough so that they can be easily understood and written down.
3. Everyone should have an equal opportunity to express ideas.
4. An individual who expresses an idea is never judged or criticized.
5. No idea is rejected no matter how silly or far-fetched it may seem.
6. No idea is criticized during the session, not even by looks, moans or laughter.
7. Ideas are not discussed as they are generated.
8. All ideas are written on a surface that everyone can see.
9. Different ideas are written, no matter how similar they are.
10. Ideas are only allowed on the topic indicated for the session.
After the session, ideas that are similar can be worked out into a single idea and then sorted by preference. The pros and cons of main ideas can be discussed until the most viable ideas are established.