We've written about various brainstorming methods, including brainstorming math before.

As we use the term, “brainstorming math” means taking advantage of the number of people involved in creative thinking, how many people can participate simultaneously, the time available, and the number of ideas various brainstorming methods are likely to yield to gauge how much creative thinking work you can accomplish.

What’s great about brainstorming math is you can not only use it to determine how many ideas will likely to emerge from creative thinking exercises. You can also use it to identify ways to make up time when a creative thinking session falls behind schedule.

Using Brainstorming Math to Save Time

At a customer forum we designed and facilitated for a business-to-business client, we emphasized creating an educational and networking environment for the company's customers. We also employed various creative thinking exercises throughout the day. Because of waiting for some delayed attendees, we started more than 15 minutes late. During the morning, some segments lasted longer than expected. To adjust our plan for the afternoon, I used brainstorming math as a way to save twenty minutes while still getting everything done we had planned.


Since participants wanted to learn about and from each other, there was an opportunity to have MORE people contributing ideas. We combined two exercises into one (2x faster), creating combo creative thinking exercise where three small groups worked simultaneously (3x more work getting done). To increase the networking impact, participants rotated among groups to increase the interaction potential. As a result, we completed all the creative thinking exercises we expected to complete and caught up all the time by mid-afternoon.

If you're facilitating group creative thinking exercises, always keep brainstorming math top of mind. Use it correctly, and you can dramatically increase group productivity, developing more ideas in less time or the same number of ideas in much less time than you originally planned.

No matter how you cut it, brainstorming math is a great way to save time!  - Mike Brown

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