Brainstorming Process 2021 Season

Our brainstorming process is heavily influenced by's Field Guide to Human-Centered Design. We strongly recommend you and your team check it out as it is an invaluable resource filled with tons of collaborative brainstorming ideas as well as rules that can provide guidance to your team throughout the brainstorming process.

Outlined below is a general brainstorming process that Full Moon Robotics will be adapting to better fit our team. We want to remind all teams that while this may work for us, it may not work for your team and it is important that you go with what works best for you.

1. Identify and Define the Problem:

FIRST makes this step fairly simple by providing its students with the game manual and game video. Still, we suggest writing every challenge down as a way to ensure you haven't missed or skipped any of them. It can be helpful to organize these challenges into different categories (like autonomous, tele-op, and endgame) to help visualize where they fit into the whole game and also to help with prioritizing strategies later on.

This season, our team adapted these steps to identify problems with last season's robot, which we improved upon while also incorporating the new FIRST challenges.

2. Specify Requirements:

When brainstorming for this year's challenges, it is best to refer to the game manual. Any question can be asked (and hopefully answered) in the FIRST official forum, and unofficial forums like Chief Delphi. Some teams designate a rule or strategy team member to help make this step easier by keeping track of the changes.

This season we will be combining our Identify and Define the Problem step with our Specify Requirements step to streamline our discussions. This is similar to the process outlined in the "Frame Your Design Challenge" section on page 32. This section outlines how to frame your design problems in a way that make them specific and attainable, through collaborative group work.

3. Collaborative Thinking:

This step is what most people think of when they think of brainstorming. Each team is different and what works for one team may not work for another especially in this step. It is essential to do what works best for your team. The field guide mentioned earlier has numerous methods of brainstorming your team can use starting on page 97 - it may be helpful to try some of these strategies prior to Kickoff.

For more guidance on how to make the collaborative thinking section more inclusive for all team members and more efficient, check out the rules on page 95 of the field guide. These rules include things like defer judgment, encourage wild ideas, and build on the ideas of others to help create a healthy space for idea generation.

Due to Full Moon Robotics' hybrid format, we will be using Discord for all participants (both onsite and online) to allow for both small group discussions and large group discussions. There is a lot of virtual meeting software available if your team is interested in either virtual or hybrid meetings, be sure to look into which one works best for your team's size.

4. Reality Check:

While every team would love to have a robot that can complete all the challenges flawlessly unfortunately we live in a world with only so much time and only so many resources. Some limited resources to keep in mind are time, material resources, COVID restrictions, and general team availability. This step doesn't mean to eliminate any ideas that may be challenging for your team but rather to make sure that your ideas are possible with the resources that you have.

To help make sure we’re making the most of our time, our team will be incorporating the Reality Check into the entirety of our brainstorming and design process. For more guidance on how to narrow down your team's options check out the “Gut Check” section in the Field Guide to Human-Centered Design found on page 110.

5. Select Intended Solution:

This step does not need to be the end all be all. In fact, you may find for your team this step is where you make preliminary decisions on what to prototype and do a proof of concept on. Group decisions can be difficult, but there are different ways you can try to reach a consensus. Pros and cons lists are a good idea to allow your team to visualize the entirety of what each design solution will entail. You can also utilize voting systems, like Surveys Monkey and Google Forms, to get a team vote on the narrowed down ideas.

For more guidance on when to prototype, check out the “Determine What to Prototype” section in the Field Guide to Human-Centered Design found on page 111. This season our team intends on using a combination of Discord polls and Google Forms to help make this process easier for our hybrid format.

It’s always important to remember the FIRST Core Values when doing anything, but especially so when interacting with others. It is important to keep in mind that during this process not to discount ideas based on perceived ability. Think pie in the sky when brainstorming in the group. Oftentimes people will shoot down their own ideas before they are even shared when they don't feel it's something they're capable of building, so it's important to tell people to think big.

If you are interested in learning more about the brainstorming process and different techniques you can use, check out the brainstorming process video at the link below.

Brainstorming Process Video