Brainstorming and Cost Improvement

The brainstorming technique is attributed to Alex Faickney Osborne as explained in his 1953 book, Applied Imagination. The technique arose from frustration with the inability of employees to develop creative solutions for problems. Personal experience suggests this is a valuable tool when deployed appropriately and the guidelines are followed. If we populate the team with diverse backgrounds we can see ideas build on other ideas very rapidly.

To really find the areas for cost improvement we must let go of our mental impediments to uncovering these opportunities. It is very probable that there are plenty of cost improvement possibilities. However, in our daily work execution we may not find the time to free our minds to consider these possibilities. A brainstorming exercise can go far to fuel the imagination, to open a “space” to think laterally at what may be possible. We have successfully employed this technique to:

  • Reduce costs
  • Generate intellectual property
  • Reduce weight for the vehicle
  • Solve product design constraints

It is not even necessary to have a team with you to accomplish this lateral thinking, creative thinking, or thinking outside the box. Whatever you call it, the objective is to alter the perspective or view of the problem in order to perceive alternative possibilities. We can do this as a solo activity or we can use a group of individuals. If we are doing this as a group exercise we must make certain the event hygiene is managed. Of course, we are not talking about cleanliness of the team but the ability of the team to work together to produce some ideas that may solve the issue (cost) at hand.

Pries, K. H., & Quigley, J. M. (2013). Reducing process costs with lean, six sigma, and value engineering techniques. Boca Raton: CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group.

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