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Brainstorming Exercise: The Most Unlikely Solution

Brainstorming Exercise: The Most Unlikely Solution


Purpose

In this brainstorming exercise, delegates get to think about the most unlikely solutions or ideas in a systematic way. The aim of this brainstorming technique is to encourage out-of-the-box thinking and encourage the participants to be bold in proposing non-obvious solutions. The competitive and fun atmosphere of the exercise which is run much like a game encourages everyone to suggest unusual solutions without the fear of being ridiculed or criticised.

Objective

Suggest the most unlikely solution to the problem and then pick the best one.

What You Need

  • Blank cards. You need about 5 per each delegate.
  • Board.
  • Pins/magnets. You need enough to stick the cards to the board.
  • Sticky stars. You need 5 stars per each delegate. Optionally you can give one colour to each person for clarity, otherwise use a common colour for all stars.
  • Optional prize.

Setup

  • Ask the group to consider a common problem to solve or assign a problem for the purpose of this exercise.
  • Distribute 5 blank cards to each delegate.
  • Ask each person to suggest the most unlikely solutions they can think of about the problem. They should write each idea separately on a card. Everyone works in silence at this stage.
  • Allocate 10 minutes for this part.
  • Ask the delegates to stick their ideas on the board and mix them up.
  • Now everyone must examine the board and read all proposed ideas. They should then place one of their sticky stars on each card that they consider is a good unlikely solution. They should continue until they have used all of their 5 stars. Delegates cannot place a star on their own cards.
  • Allocate 15 minutes for this part.
  • Once everyone has placed their sticky stars, select three cards with the highest number of stars and bring everyone’s attention to the ideas.
  • Follow with a 10 minutes discussion to brainstorm on these ideas.
  • Give a prize to the winner, the person that proposed the idea with the highest number of stars.
  • Follow with a general discussion on the effectiveness of the brainstorming technique.

Timing

Explaining the Exercise: 2 minutes

Activity: 10 min idea generation + 15 min sharing and evaluating ideas = 25 minutes

Group Feedback: 10 minutes

Discussion

Did you come up with unusual solutions? Did any of them lead you to think of practical solutions for the problem at hand? What did you think of the creative process used in this brainstorming technique? Whose idea won and why you all voted it as the best unusual idea?