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During a brainstorm activity it's sometimes easy to come up with a lot of ideas and solutions to various user problems. How do you prioritize the ideas to focus your resources and avoid scope creep?

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closed as not constructive by kontur, Matt Obee, ChrisF, dhmholley, Ben Brocka Feb 26 '13 at 16:30

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You might want to expand on your question some more. Editing it to be more concrete and maybe adding things you have tried already or experience with will make it a lot more answerable. –  kontur Feb 26 '13 at 13:00
    
Agree with kontur on this one. We'll need much more to go on here, an explanation of the specific problem that you have around the brainstorming would possibly help. In particular it's not really a UX question currently, but a project-management one, or something similar. –  JonW Feb 26 '13 at 14:26

1 Answer 1

Call out the constraints

There is often a lot of emphasis on allowing free thinking during blue sky design sessions. While that can be really helpful in coming up with excellent ideas which might be really innovative, at times you can be sadled with a whole bunch of ideas which sound great but cannot be implemented due to the time frame, technology restrictions or budget limitations. I would recommmend doing the following before you start a design brainstorming session.

  1. Inform the participants of the problem statement at hand
  2. Highlight the objective of what you plant to achieve ( You might not know what you hope to achieve but you would have a generic idea like build an e-commerce website or a build an iphone app or so on)
  3. Highlight the restrictions in technology and timeline and budget (if applicable)
  4. Start the brain storming session
  5. Collect the ideas and start to prioritize them on the following order:

    - The minimum product requirements to have a minimum viable product
    - The must have features in a full fledged product 
    - The important features which can perhaps wait till phase 2 or even version 1.1
    - The nice to have features
    

    The features should be analyzed on basis of what you plan to achieve and what the end impact is going to be.

I recommend looking at this article Best Brainstorming Techniques for additional inputs. To quote the article :

Establish the Ground Rules Taking an “other worlds” approach, or similar methods that go outside the familiar, can bring on some crazy suggestions—and that’s a good thing. That old saw that no idea is a bad idea? A truly groundbreaking idea could be left unspoken because of self-editing, says Buffalo State’s Puccio: “When we’re asked to come up with ‘good’ ideas, we get so focused on evaluating the quality of the idea that we sometimes dismiss ideas prematurely—ideas that might actually turn out to be workable or valuable or breakthrough.” But some evidence reveals that the most productive brainstorming approach is to have individuals develop ideas independently, then to have the group dissect and think critically about the ideas, according to Jonah Lehrer in his book Imagine: How Creativity Works (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012). Another option is to get people out of their comfort zones: Rich’s Rife suggests asking an executive to toss out a really crazy idea before the meeting. “This gives permission for everyone else to think that way,” Rife says.

Plan for Implementation Once participants have brainstormed all these blue-sky ideas, 9 times out of 10, they never get off the whiteboard. Experts agree that charting an implementation plan before the meeting even starts can ensure the best ideas move forward from blue sky to production line. “Your success rate will be much higher if you know what the next steps are in advance,” notes Phillips of Phillips + Co.

Other articles which give excellent inputs on how to conduct and follow up on brain storming sessions are :

Brainstorming 2.0: Making Ideas That Really Happen

#34 – HOW TO RUN A BRAINSTORMING MEETING

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