Using improvisation to enhance the effectiveness of brainstorming

Elizabeth M Gerber*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

29 Scopus citations


Group brainstorming is a popular ideation method for design teams, yet brainstorming outcomes vary greatly. The method depends on individuals working collectively to generate ideas, and so group dynamics determine whether the method succeeds or fails. This paper explores how interaction designers used techniques from theatrical improvisation, or improv, to adhere to the rules of brainstorming thereby enhancing group interactions while collaborating. The usefulness of improvisation for brainstorming stems from the similarity of the goals of improvisation and brainstorming, the similarity of the recurrent problems that actors and designers encounter when collaborating, and the distinctness of the ways each have devised to resolve the problems that block the group's performance. This paper reflects on the individual- and group-level outcomes for design students and practitioners while brainstorming.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCHI 2009
Subtitle of host publicationDigital Life New World - Proceedings of the 27th International Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Dec 1 2009
Event27th International Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2009 - Boston, MA, United States
Duration: Apr 4 2009Apr 9 2009


Other27th International Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2009
CountryUnited States
CityBoston, MA


  • Brainstorming
  • Collaboration
  • Creativity support tools
  • Design methods
  • Improvisation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design

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