Brainstorming Networks and Innovation Teams supported by Wikideas and Creativity Connector tools: a Case Study

Extracts from poster accepted in Creativity and Cognitition 09:

This research aims to provide a new way of conducting the brainstorming technique with Web2.0 based tools for improving innovation processes. These tools we have developed enable the participation of many people in idea generation and evaluation sessions forming brainstorming networks. They also allow the formation of innovation development teams based on the affinity among the participants for their creativity and their interest in implementing the ideas. We describe the rationale, participants, tools and findings from a study conducted in a university course using the instruction method “Thinking actively in a creative environment”, TACE. The results confirm that brainstorming networks are effective and that participants are satisfied with the project groups formed and ideas to be developed.
Web2.0 technologies are Web based technologies that enable the participation of users in creating Web content. Furthermore Web2.0 systems are defining and inventing new forms of communication and organization. Web2.0 systems are reinventing idea generation and innovation with models such as idea markets [7] or crowdsourcing [1].
The technique of creative brainstorming created by Osborn has experiencing positive changes with computer tools. With Electronic brainstorming System, EBS, groups can produce more ideas that verbal brainstorming groups and that nominal groups, who work at the same time but without exchanging ideas [5]. Although in literature it is argued that the potential gains by using a EBS increase with group size, it is also known that there are multiple factors causing losses as the group size increases, such as cognitive interference caused by the need to pay attention to the ideas of others [4]. In this regard, the project Ideation2.0 proposes a network-mode brainstorming technique supported by Web2.0 tools: each participant can interact with a large enough number of participants so that new ideas can emerge from others’ ideas, there is a constructive discussion and a reasoned evaluation. But with a not too big number of participants to interact with so that cognitive interference is low.
But ideas need to be developed to become innovations. Yet businesses have limited resources for innovation, and only a small percentage of ideas can be transformed into a new product or process. For a successful development of innovations West [8] argues that an important factor is that development teams can participate in the selection of ideas to implement. Also, it seemed interesting to test how brainstorming networks allow participants to generate and evaluated ideas, and whether groups composed of individuals who express the same level of affinity towards certain creative ideas or have similar creative abilities could be created, as this information could guarantee the realization of innovation projects.

The results of this study suggest that the brainstorming network technique and the creation of innovation teams based on the creativity and affinity for ideas of the participants is effective and that participants involved in the generation and evaluation of the ideas are motivated to develop the ideas. Our tools facilitate creative tasks and the organization of groups for the completion of their innovative projects. Most students were very satisfied with the method used (M = 4.66, SD = 1.5) and the ideas chosen (M = 5.11, SD = 1.6).
Brainstorming networks created using the tool Connector Creativity allowed for realization of idea generation and evaluation sessions in a network. At these sessions the participants had access to a limited number of ideas that could assess and comment on and help them generate new ideas. However participants in these sessions were devoted mainly to discuss existing ideas and generated very few new ideas, mainly because they knew that these ideas would be the project that had to implement afterwards. The configuration values chosen to create the brainstorming networks were adequate, although further work is conducting studies to see the effect of other values.
The organization of project teams based on creativity and the rating of ideas by participants using the Connector Creativity tool has been satisfactory. In the study 10 teams were created with group affinity greater than 0. Study participants were very satisfied with the project teams that have been formed, and the project ideas that will develop. This result confirms West suggestion [31] that development teams have to take part in the generation and evaluation of innovations to be developed.
The Wikideas tool has enabled network-mode brainstorming sessions to accomplish correctly with the new integrated features: private idea spaces, anonymous contributions and ideas rating.
Finally note that the use of an instructional method that incorporates a creative process seems to be more effective when the outcome of the creative process has to be implemented in an innovative product with a real function.


Figure 5. Affinities between participants and resulting project teams. Each participant is connected to those participants with an affinity greater than 0.2. The vertical position of each participant is proportional to his creativity index. A group contains the three members of each triangle painted in gray.