Facet 3: Concept Development

Facet 3: Concept Development

 Brainstorming Techniques

Brainstorming was divided into 2 main groups:

  1. Group
  2. Individual

Group discussions take place during group meetings twice a week. Individual brainstorming was assigned to group members during times in between group meetings.  All attempts at brainstorming were documented in either individual notes or in minutes of group meetings.  There are many strategies for both sections of brainstorming that were used by the team and all team members during idea creation sessions.

 

Group

During group brainstorming sessions, as many group members as possible needed to be present.  If too many group members were not present, individual brainstorming and research would continue until the group could convene at another time.  Brainstorming as a group usually took place in Arrowhead center room 110D.  Two strategies were used for group brainstorming; open discussion and topic introduction.  Both strategies are affective and are broken down below.

Open Discussion Strategy
Format – Group members conduct open conversation about many design topics.  The use of overhead projectors and blackboards are often implemented to help convey design ideas.  Notes are taken by at least one group member to contribute to meeting minutes.
Strategy Highlights PRO CON
Rapid fire idea production. X
Overlooking of ideas with trump by new suggestion. X
Interactive approach at producing ideas X
Use of technology and other resources to help convey ideas. X
Concentration on multiple topics, often changing topic quickly. X
Inclusion of all group members. X
Topic Introduction Strategy
Format – After individual brainstorming sessions, group members introduce the topics that made up their session to the team.  Discussion of individual ideas, design suggestions, and implementation consensus take place among the team concerning the topic.
Strategy Highlights PRO CON
Concentration on one topic allows for thorough investigation. X
More detailed sketches and idea representations come from individual brainstorming sessions. X
Group’s non-acceptance of idea results in wasted time. X
Individual approach at design coupled directly with group approach. X
Time constraints and extended discussion take away from other group member’s topic introduction. X

The strategy that was used was determined by the previous week’s individual assignments.  If group members had individual assignments that were completed in time for a group meeting, the Topic Introduction strategy was used.  Similarly, if the design phase had reached a standstill and design ideas were quickly needed to allow individual brainstorming to continue, the Open Discussion Strategy was used.  Both strategies were affective and commonly resulted in idea development.

Individual

Two strategies were used for individual brainstorming as well.  The Idea Creation Strategy and the Research Strategy were the two most common methods for individual brainstorming.  The choice of strategy the strategy that was used resulted directly from the progress made in group brainstorming.  During group discussion, ideas that need development are assigned to individual group members for improvement or design completion.  At this point, the group member must decide what strategy would be best to complete the task assigned to him by the group collectively.  Some tasks require idea development that is original and directly fits the application, while others require research of what products currently exist or how individual components (such as hydraulics) work.  The strategies are outlined below.

Individual brainstorming is an exercise that supports group brainstorming.  Due to time constraints or stalls in development, individual brainstorming can be applied to increase the progress of an idea, or help create an idea in the first place.  Group meetings are charged by individual brainstorming and the results achieved by each group member between group meetings.  Ideas proceed most gracefully if an individual team member creates an initial idea that is then either accepted or vetoed by the whole group.  If accepted, the idea can then be improved by input from all group members during group discussions.

Idea Creation Strategy
Format – Individuals ponder and experiment with different original ideas.  Development of custom and breakthrough components often comes from individual idea development.
Strategy Highlights PRO CON
Creative individual insight that was unnoticed in group debate. X
Specific assignment allows concentration on topic at hand. X
“Idea block” stalls development by individual X
Feedback from group doesn’t come until next group discussion X
Ideas can come very quickly, or very slowly X
Coupled with other strategies can be very affective. X
Research Strategy
Format – Research is conducted on a particular task in order to support development of an idea.  Examples of an idea, existing patents and designs, and basic theory of components can be researched to promote or rule out design ideas.
Strategy Highlights PRO CON
Increases individual and group knowledge of design components. X
Research results can confirm or rule out use of an idea. X
Important information needed to support development of design is collected during individual research. X
Feedback from group doesn’t come until next group discussion X
Specific topics are decided before research even begins, so time is used efficiently X
Coupled with group strategies can lead to productive idea development. X

 

Approach to Idea Development

In order to have a successful and creative design environment, a consistent approach to design must be developed and strictly followed by all team members.  To create a team atmosphere, certain guidelines must be set for team conduct both in and out of group discussion.  This eliminates the need for arguments or disagreements between team members because of an inappropriate approach at presenting or deciding on an idea.  Unrest between team members causes friction and setbacks in the design process.

 

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