Blog 9: Strengths and weaknesses of group brainstorming – Asylum seekers and refugees

Last lesson seemed very unproductive.

I think this was due to the combination of a few things: the size of the class (much larger, less intimate), the very small table that I was sitting at (butchers paper’s worst enemy), and it was just a day where I was feeling strangely lethargic (I’m usually quite energetic and love mindmapping, Siobhan can vouch for that).

I think it’s important to reflect on these class exercises honestly. So I have to confess that the weakness of this group brainstorm session was that it didn’t happen. We began with good intentions when we started but not much was achieved at the end.

With the group butcher’s paper slipping off the tiny desk we all took to writing on our laptops. This was the first mistake. This method of working often encourages my laziness. It’s a sort of ‘I can do it myself later’ mentality that I get when I know no one will look at what I’m typing on screen . Looking back on the word document there was one word that I’d written down for the ‘Who’ part of the W’s analysis – “REFUGEES!!!!!”. This was the last thing I wrote in that lesson.

I suppose the weakness was less so in the task and more in the way we approached it. In reflection it would have been good if I’d come to class with a fresh mind and no laptop, determined to make this group brainstorm work to my advantage, but I did not.

Despite the total lack of writing on our group’s part, I feel that the non-stop 3 hour conversation that took place last lesson was quite valuable. The nature of our conversation was quite loose, we would bounce off each other with anecdotes, personal beliefs, experiences and interests.

Without the pressure of having to construct a mindmap, my tutor and my group members were prompted to bring up examples of design responses that they found genuinely interesting.This ranged from past student works to Siobhan’s own work on refugees and asylum seekers. Our conversation also flowed towards the idea of effective social activism and the work done by Common Cause (the creators of one of my favourite diagrams). A lot of these examples and ideas were really interesting and they later on inspired my design response ideas.

Writing this now, I realise that the lesson wasn’t unproductive after all. Rather, it was a group brainstorming session of a different (possibly more lazy) nature. ☺

When I went home and read through blog post 9’s description I realised that I really should’ve put the effort into a group brainstorm. To make up for it, I decided to do my own brainstorm with the occasional help of some of my peers on Facebook and the memory of what Siobhan discussed with us in class.


Brainstorming problem statements was difficult because I’d explored so much in my research but not really in depth. I did a quick mindmap of potential statements and highlighted the words that I felt were important. From there I tried to create a statement that used a few of these key words.


img_20160918_0002This was the problem statement that I ended with. It is definitely TBC and I worry that its a bit of a double barrel problem statement. It can essentially be broken down into two but one does affect the other. I’ll need to confirm with my tutor on whether or not this statement is too broad.

I think this exercise was really good in helping me mould the huge amount of scattered research that I’d gathered into something that could potentially guide my design direction. It forced me to sit down and make a decision. There is still a very long way to go, but I see this as the last steps out of meandering, and the first step into creating.