Complaints about IDEO's brainstorms are rare because it is an expected part of the design process, which is endorsed and used by legitimate sources of authority and expertise.
IDEO brainstorms may not be the most efficient means for generating ideas or for doing any other single task, but they are efficient for accomplishing a variety of important tasks at once.
Design team members who call brainstorms and use the resulting ideas are internal clients, as are IDEO managers who (informally) review the ideas and billed hours.
Brainstorms help maintain and enhance IDEO's memory of design solutions, communicate and reinforce organizational norms for collaboration and constant experimentation, help maintain a status order based on technical knowledge and skill, and provide skill variety (and opportunities to interact with friends and eat good food) that helps IDEO attract, retain, educate, and motivate a skilled and mobile workforce.
Experiments indicate that participants find face-to-face brainstorms to be enjoyable, a theme that was also evident in our study.
The effects of brainstorms on personal growth and well-being will vary across settings and participants within settings, both in terms of which aspects are affected and whether brainstorms are generally beneficial or harmful.
We have implied that, compared with other ways that people at IDEO do their work, distinct norms are present in brainstorms and these sessions bring about a distinct set of (largely desirable) outcomes for IDEO, its designers, and its clients.
Yet few clients worked in organizations that used brainstorms, which is why IDEO sends clients the brainstorming rules before they visit and why facilitators devote much effort to assuring that clients follow these rules.
They first learned to brainstorm in university classes on product design and, by working at IDEO, gained experience and a reputation for having or lacking brainstorming skills.
A facilitator organizes a brainstorm by first compiling a list of participants with pertinent and complementary skills and then inviting them over e-mail, in person, or by phone to attend.
After a brainstorm, facilitators photograph the board and collect sketches and lists from participants, which they use to write a brainstorming report and to guide their subsequent work.