Week 3 - Brainstorming Needs & Vision


Great brainstorming is one of the most powerful and one of the most misunderstood methods in the in the innovators toolbox. It‰Ûªs a special kind of collaboration with specific rules of behavior designed to maximize idea generation. While many say they know how to brainstorm, few do it really well. In some ways, brainstorming is like volleyball. If you know the rules, you might be able to survive a social game at the neighborhood picnic. But this is a far cry from the kind of volleyball you watch on TV. No matter what level you are at, you can always up your game. As such, the focus of this class session is to construct a great brainstorming exercise based around the needs found by the class participants.


  1. Introductions - Go around the class introducing each other again. This time say one of your favorite activities to do when you have free time. (10 min).
  2. Introduction to Brainstorming - Before diving into the main class activity, watch the clip 'Inside IDEO' on youtube (parts 1, 2, & 3). Discuss some of the brainstorming best practices that they performed. (30 min).
  3. Needs Finding - Spend some time writing up the needs of the class on a whiteboard/chalkboard. Next have each person go and put up a post-it note next to their two favorite ideas. After that has been done, introduce the class to these brainstorming exercises. Make sure everyone is on the same page and then divide the class into groups of 3-4 people and give each of them some paper and markers and one of the ideas that received the most post-its. Then have each team break up and do the brainstorming exercise to come up with potential solutions to the problem (all the way through the 'Ideation' phase). (30 min).
  4. Switch It Up - Reorganize the teams so that everyone changes teams except for one individual. That one individual then becomes the 'project leader' and has to explain the ideas to the new team and then the team has to come up with a plan for implementation and evaluation for a solution to the problem. Encourage wild ideas and don't focus on being super-practical. (30 min).
  5. Evaluation - All of the class comes together and then explains to the rest of the class in a 3-5 minute pitch what their problem is, how their going to fix it, and how they plan to evaluate it. (15 min).
  6. Wrap Up - Talk through the brainstorming process and tease out some lessons regarding brainstorming. Be sure to follow the rules highlighted on the brainstorming post, and encourage the students to test out this process anytime they need to come up with, decide, and evaluate a decision. Finally, assign the reading for next week.


No exercises for next week.


  • Case Study. Select and read a case study that discusses mission and vision. One we recommend is based on the organization 'March of Dimes.'
  • Prepare two discussion questions. Prepare to be cold-called in class... :)

Next Week:

Next week we will introduce mission/vision and explain its importance in social enterprises in much greater detail. We will introduce the analysis of case studies to the class and explain their importance, especially in the young field of social entrepreneurship.

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