Blog Post 9 // Visual Documentation of Brainstorming session

Keegan Spring

As I detailed in my previous post I found the 5 W’s task to be an incredibly useful tool to engage ones mind before brainstorming. By asking a variety of questions in self reflection, a culture of learning and thinking is cultivated within the participant. I found this time of intentional self reflection to be extremely effective in preparing me for group brainstorming, as it not only helped ease my mind into a focused state, which enabled a much more dynamic and rich conversation between group members, but given the nature of the questions, it streamlined and condensed the plethora of questions, findings and understandings that I had developed over the semester. I found this task to be particularly helpful in refining my audience, for up until now I had been caught between focusing on where the problem is currently manifesting itself, middle aged men, and where the problem is most likely beginning to cause undetected issues, young men aged 16-24. This process of individual reflection helped steer me in a direction that addresses prevents the problem at it’s root, in young men, rather than just treating it when it surfaces, in middle age. Here are my responses to the 5W’s:

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After engaging my mind in such a culture of learning and questioning, the next task of brainstorming with the group proved to be fruitful in developing a wide spectrum of ideas for different emergent practices. However, given the time constraints, our group found it difficult to generate a large quantity of ideas. Another factor that constrained the effectiveness of this process, for me, was that we brainstormed my idea first and thus were not completely understanding how to enact the task that was before us. Given that we found it difficult to generate ideas for all emergent practices in our initial attempts, we decided to lay the mind map out based upon the practices themselves, thus forcing us to engage with each and every emergent practice.

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Brainstorming map

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I found this action to be helpful in orienting my thoughts towards methods of achieving a product, rather than just focusing on creating a product and attaching a method to it in hindsight. We also set ourselves a challenge to come up with an even spread of ideas for each emergent practice. Although this was difficult, and at times frustrating, such an approach was incredibly useful for training and exercising our design thinking in ways in which we may never have addressed had we mapped these ideas on our own. Personally I found it helpful to hear the different methods and ideas that my group members had, for it provided a diversity in thought processing and practical application that I definitely needed to formulate a broad set of outcomes.

A particularly helpful aspect of this group mapping exercise for my own process came from being forced to problem solve and brainstorm ideas based on a topic that I Wast particularly attached to or focused on. I found that as I brainstormed ideas, almost objectively, I was able to see more faults and potential issues much more clearly. Subsequently, I began to apply what I was feeding back to my group into my own practice and develop richer insights and thoughts.

Time proved to be both a hinderance and a help when performing these brainstorms. In one sense, having less time to brainstorm enabled concise and quick ideas to form. This allowed the group to move from one idea to the next seamlessly without feeling pressure to refine or expand upon the idea. However, on the other hand, this lack of time also significantly hindered the quantity of responses that were generated. I feel that my group and I would have benefited greatly from using this mapping technique for an extended period of time as we were so effective in generating a plethora of thoughts and outcomes for each other.

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