At Haughton Design, we undertake multiple brainstorming sessions throughout the development process. These creative sessions vary in focus, from broad-brush product concepts to manufacturability, detailed features, robustness, risks, cost reduction and even through to focusing on ideas to improve our own business!

Some creative sessions are highly successful while others produce few useful ideas. This can depend on the topic but, there are some factors that can influence the success and productivity in one way or the other. Design Director, Mark, shares some of his advice for undertaking an effective and efficient brainstorming session:

Having tried virtual brainstorming sessions, although they have some great benefits, it’s clear that the most effective sessions usually happen face-to-face. A video call with more than 2 people can restrict the free flow of conversation and can make it more challenging to demonstrate ideas quickly.

A facilitator should organise the session and prepare a brief for the problem they’d like some input on. They need to understand the problem and requirements themselves and layout all the factors that solutions must meet. Providing this information to the attendees before-hand can give them time to think about it and saves time understanding the boundaries and requirements for the session.

Pick a good team! Involving the right people, with relevant experience and understanding is key, but sometimes it’s good to get different and fresh views as well. 3-4 people, including the facilitator, is usually a good number, with each session lasting between half an hour to an hour. Sometimes it’s also useful to also involve other project stakeholders such as the client and end users depending on the problem you’re trying to understand and solve.

If possible, focus the team on specific elements of the design at a time to avoid overwhelming them with the requirements of the full system. Once you have ideas for the different elements, you can start to mix and match them to see what works well together.

Listen to all of the ideas that come up and try to build on each one. A lot of our best solutions are a combination of ideas from different people with varying backgrounds. Using large glass or dry-wipe boards is great for keeping all of the ideas visible at the same time and helps get everyone up on their feet and involved. Prepare any necessary stationary and equipment beforehand – It sounds simple but preparing and investing in items such as quality pens in various colours will help communicate the ideas fast and clearly. Finally, photograph any sketches and document the discussion. It might take more than one session to solve a particular challenge – often taking some time away between these can help inspire and bring fresh ideas to the table.

These are just some simple tips for getting started with undertaking an efficient brainstorming session. From the complete development of autoinjectors to optimising specific inhalation device mechanisms, here at Haughton Design, we have utilised brainstorming sessions while working on a wide variety of medical and drug delivery device projects for pharmaceutical companies globally. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or would like to discuss a project.

Mark Heynes - Medical Device Design Director at Haughton Design Mark Heynes 31 January 2023

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Get in Touch with Mark Heynes

Design Director

Mark has worked in new product development for almost 15 years. Graduating in Product Design from Staffordshire University and designing for the medical, healthcare, building products and automotive sectors, Mark uses this experience to manage the design team, ensuring project resource is well planned and design outputs meet high standards. Outside of work, he spends time with his family and practicing karate. Currently a 4th Dan with over 30 years training, Mark has the same dedicated approach to karate and design.

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