The purpose of the research in this reading was to experiment with methods of developing novel ideas and approaches to problems without spending a lot of time doing traditional brainstorming.
In traditional brainstorming, a group of up to a dozen or so people are gathered together, and under a certain set of rules, encouraged to rapidly share ideas to address a problem. The emphasis is to not judge the utility, feasibility, or craziness of an idea, but to just get the ideas recorded. After the idea generation session is over, the group may vote on which ideas are the most useful.
While brainstorming is a well-understood, and often useful method of generating ideas, it suffers from a few problems. It can be inefficient, in part, because several people need to have schedules arranged, and are often taking time from other duties, and in part because the time spent as a group generating ideas could possibly be spent with each individual generating ideas by themselves. For example, six people brainstorming for an hour doesn’t necessarily produce six hours worth of individual work.
The researchers attempted to get around this problem with a few different methods.
Chainstorming skips the idea generation phase by attempting to match up pregenerated ideas from other brainstorming sessions. The results of that were pretty striking. The pregenerated ideas seemingly had nothing to do with the presented prompts, but matched surprisingly well.