Problem solving is an element of every business. Effective problem solving is a result of using the right tools and strategies to include all members of the team to get to the best possible solution.  In life sciences consulting and other types of training programs, brainstorming is one of the easiest and most effective tools to use.

There are basically two types of brainstorming strategies that when used in conjunction with one another, will lead a team to the best possible solution to a problem.  These two methods are often referred to as Round Robin and Free Wheeling.

In Round Robin brainstorming, everyone is asked for their input into how to solve the issue at hand.   The team leader will go around the group to each person in turn and ask for ideas which are then written on a flip chart or whiteboard.  There is no discussion, evaluation or judgement of ideas at this time.   This helps to encourage members of the session who may be a bit shy into speaking up without feeling intimidated.  The team leader also refrains from any comments at this time about the ideas.  All discussion is saved for later.

During the Round Robin session, a team member who is unable to think of an idea will simply pass and the leader will move on to the next person.  When the majority of the team begins to pass, then it is time to move on to the Free Wheeling part of the session.

The team leader will continue to gather and write ideas on the board during this session as well.  However, the difference is, the team leader can stimulate discussion within the group and anyone can shout out any idea at any time.  This gathering of ideas continues until it appears there are no more ideas to write down.  It is crucial when this happens, however for the team leader to push a little harder at this point as this is often when the most creative ideas are generated.

Once the team is satisfied that all ideas have been expressed, it is then time to go back to the very beginning and start discussing the first ideas that were written down.  With each idea, the team leader will ensure that everyone understands the idea that was put forth.  Often, in clarifying the idea, new ideas will develop as well.

At this point, every idea will now be discussed by the group to determine its potential value in helping to solve the problem at hand.  As the team progresses through the ideas, some will be eliminated, some expanded upon, and some will be set aside to come back to at a later time.

Eventually by eliminating, changing and combining ideas, a viable solution to the problem will be found, and all team members will feel instrumental in achieving the desired results.

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