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A process for brainstorming innovative ideas, opportunities and solutions


As described earlier, it is important to identify leverage points during the final stage of the TDA development process – thus linking the TDA and the SAP.

This step, aims to identify innovative ideas, opportunities or solutions that could be introduced, that target the leverage points and meet the goals identified in the previous section. These could be innovative “new” ideas or opportunities; they may be defined as solutions or interventions. They could be “old” ideas – but they may have a new focus (i.e. replication of solutions or interventions from other regions; or applying a solution for one problem to another problem).  The point is to be as creative as possible during this step – critical analysis of the proposed ideas or opportunities comes later.

There are numerous approaches to brainstorming, but the collaborative approach to brainstorming described here is highly effective because it is energetic, openly collaborative and allows the SAP development team members to build on each other’s ideas.


A key to the brainstorming process and the ultimate success of the SAP is the importance of prioritisation - an integral part of any strategic planning process. Because there are often limited available resources, prioritisation helps to identify which innovative ideas or opportunities should be considered further during the TDA/SAP process. This is not about producing a strict ordering of the ideas or opportunities, rather the purpose is to distinguish those that should be considered further in the SAP process from those that need not.

The brainstormed ideas and opportunities can be assessed by reference to criteria. Examples include, amongst others:

  • Level of certainty that implementation will produce the expected/desired outcome
  • Level of expected impact
  • Feasibility of implementation

Advice from the field

Planning is everything Make sure you and key SAP development team members are familiar with the process before you deliver it.

Setting ground rules You will need to set some ground rules before beginning any effective brainstorming session. However, you must be careful not to set the rules so tight that you stifle creativity. You may find the best way to set the ground rules is to explain the objectives of the brainstorming and how it should work and then let the participants set the rules. This way they understand the rules and they will respect them more because they made them.

Brainstorming is more than putting people into a room and talking about ideas. You will need to ensure that the discussion focuses in the right direction while supporting a free flow of ideas. Ultimately, it is a tool for generating as many ideas or solutions as possible to resolve a problem or issue. It is not the tool you will use to determine the best solution. Your goal for a brainstorming session is to get as many ideas as possible out in the open. Discussion and analyzing these ideas will come later.

Taking records Make sure all ideas are recorded – if they are on a white board make sure there is a record. Once erased, they’re gone forever.