[UX Calendar] Let’s Brainstorm on Brainstorming!

The brainstorming workshop, stemming from the innovative vision of the advertiser and creator of the BBDO agency, Alex Osborn, in the 40s, has lost its meaning and its essence over the years. To restore its letters of nobility and its creative power, let's rediscover together the structured steps of this method.

Alex Osborn, the inventor of Brainstorming

This is a sequel to his book “Applied Imagination”, published in 1953 asAlex Osborn and his Brainstorming became a standard in American advertising agencies of the time. THE brainstorming success has endured over time and has surpassed the boundaries of Uncle Sam and even the hopes of its own creator.

Today brainstorming is a word “catch all” which allows your colleagues to no longer say to you: “Hey, what if we exchanged our ideas on the MetaPlan v2 project to find new ideas together?”, but rather: “Hey, let’s brainstorm?” Despite this saving of time and coolness, brainstorming is not a word but a traditional framed method of group problem solving based on a studied process which stimulates individual and group creativity by allowing the free flow of ideas. But what are the steps of the brainstorming method?

The stages of Brainstorming

In practice, brainstorming sessions can involve five to twenty people, or even more, depending on the needs of the situation and the problem at hand. It is crucial that the group is large enough to offer a diversity of ideas but also small enough to allow open communication and active participation from each member.

For the venue, it is essential to create a relaxed and open atmosphere that encourages free expression and the generation of innovative ideas.

There is no specific time for each stage of the workshop, but a brainstorming session generally lasts 2 hours maximum. 

Step #1: Preparation and Introduction 

Duration: 15 min
Before starting the workshop, it is necessary to ensure that participants understand the fundamental rules and the problem of the subject. Briefly introduce the story of Alex Osborn and his original intention. Then, create a space where creativity can flourish unhindered.

Step #2: Idea Generation without Criticism 

Duration: 30 min
In agreement with Osborn, this first phase must be free from criticism. Encourage free expression of ideas. this step is crucial. Emphasize that this is a time for raw creativity.

Step #3: Quantity before Quality 

Duration: 30 min
In this phase Reestablish the principle that quantity takes precedence over quality in the generation phase. The more ideas there are, the greater the chances of discovering innovative concepts.

Association of Ideas 

Duration: 15 min
Emphasize the importance of combining ideas. Encourage participants to build on each other's ideas, explore unexpected combinations, and push conventional boundaries.

Collaborative Assessment 

Duration: 30 min
Introduce constructive criticism after the generation phase. Participants can discuss, evaluate and refine ideas, while respecting individual creativity.

Consolidation and Planning 

Duration: 30 min
The final step is to consolidate the selected ideas and develop an action plan. Encourage collaborative thinking about the practical implementation of the most promising ideas.

A quick and effective result

At the end of the workshop, the results are a series of pitches or scenarios which will subsequently be presented to the client. Thus, in a limited time and at a lower cost, the group will have succeeded in finding new ideas to sell to its client or to describe to its superior.

Carry out a digital brainstorm

You will find multiple tools online to organize your brainstorming. Here is a selection:

  • Miro is an online visual collaboration platform designed for teams of all kinds. Using visual Kanban boards, user story maps or even mind maps, the platform's infinite canvas allows teams to brainstorm, design products, and access them from anywhere. what device. Discover more here
  • Mural is an intuitive digital whiteboard that offers interactive Mindmaps and brainstorming templates allowing teams to collaborate and improve their brainstorming sessions easily.  Discover more here
  • Brainstorming wooclap is a true collaborative and interactive creativity tool. Discover more here
  • Klaxoon is a tool developed to help businesses in the brainstorming process. It provides a centralized platform with features such as the ability to create slides, share screens with team members, receive timely feedback real to organize ideas based on filters, tags and dimensions. Discover more here


Alex Osborn's Brainstorming was a revolution in the field of advertising creativity. Its success in denaturalizing its meaning and has today become a catch-all word to define collective reflection. Although brainstorming is the creativity method of the last seventy years, new methods like the Design Sprint are showing their way by pointing out new problems due to the evolution of the world and new agile working methods. Will the Design Sprint experience similar success to that of Brainstorming?


Pierre Guillard-Wilks, UX Designer