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The list on the right is a set of key words used by this web site and other people in the field of brainstorming and creativity. Click through the words in the list to be given a definition and description for each. The definitions are in sequential order, so by clicking the list top-down you will better understand the latter entries.

You will note that many words have more than one definition. This is intentional because words are used in different ways by different people and a single definition is often neither helpful nor sufficient. Only by reading all the definitions will you truly understand the complexities of the words and what they represent.

Wallace Stevens wrote a poem called "Thirteen ways of looking at a blackbird" in which he wrote thirteen verses, all describing a blackbird from different angles. There is no single definition which fits exactly. Likewise, we have described the key words from different angles to give you a better indication of what they really mean.

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Brainstorming is "a conference technique by which a group attempts to find a solution for a specific problem by amassing all the ideas spontaneously by its members" (Alex Osborn)

Brainstorming is a process designed to obtain the maximum number of ideas relating to a specific area of interest.

Brainstorming is a technique that maximizes the ability to generate new ideas.

Brainstorming is where a group of people put social inhibitions and rules aside with the aim of generating new ideas and solutions.

Brainstorming is a time dedicated to generating a large number of ideas regardless of their initial worth.

Brainstorming is a part of problem solving which involves the creation of new ideas by suspending judgment.

Brainstorming is the creation of an optimal state of mind for generating new ideas.

Brainstorming is the free association of different ideas to form new ideas and concepts.

Dictionary definitions of 'Brainstorm'

  • A sudden inspiration
  • A bright idea
  • A severe outburst of excitement, often as a result of a transitory disturbance of cerebral activity
  • A sudden mental aberration


Mass of nerve tissue in the head. The part inside the top of the head that controls the body and makes people able to think. The soft convoluted mass of nervous tissue within the skull that controls and coordinates the nervous system and is the centre of thought, memory and emotions.


Violent weather consisting of the many elements of rain, wind, snow, sand, etc.

Thesaurus alternatives to 'Brainstorm'

Excitable state, exhilaration, elevation, intoxication, abandon, thrill, transport, ecstasy, fever, whirl, warmth, ferment, stew, turbulence, boisterousness, outburst, outbreak, explosion, commotion, hysterics, madness, rage, rampage.


To bring into being, to cause to exist, originate, to give rise to, bring about, produce, to form, to introduce, to invent, to conceive, to compose, to author, to initiate.


The ability to create. Imaginative, innovative, artistic. Characterized by being original or new. Formed by a new process. Having the ability to create. Designed to stimulate the imagination.


The process of being creative. A series of actions which create new ideas, thoughts and physical objects.


The process of thought. To consider, judge or believe. The process of exercising the mind in order to make a decision. To remember or recollect. To make the mental choice between options.


An image of an external object or process formed by the mind. Any product of intellectual activity. The product of mental activity where the mind consciously conceives a thought.

Creative Thinking

Specific thought processes which improve the ability to be creative. Being in an optimal state of mind for generating new ideas. To think deliberately in ways that improve the likelihood of new thoughts occurring. To maximize the ability of the brain to think of new ideas. The ability to think of original, diverse and elaborate ideas. A series of mental actions which produce changes and developments of thought. The process of exploring multiple avenues of actions or thoughts.
(Sometimes called divergent thinking because thought patterns and areas of belief are expanded.)

Lateral Thinking

Similar to Creative Thinking. Also: Seeking to solve problems by unorthodox or apparently illogical methods. "A set of systematic techniques used for changing concepts and perceptions and generating new ones", "Exploring multiple possibilities and approaches instead of pursuing a single approach." (Edward de Bono, originator of the phrase)


A mindset. A formed opinion. A way of seeing the world. A particular way of thinking. A fixed pattern or model. Your current viewpoint and process from which your mind analyzes information.


A matter difficult to arrange or in which it is difficult to decide the best course of action.

There are many different definitions or alternative words for the word "problem".

For our purposes, a problem is defined as a situation where a change must be made to the current process to bring it back to an acceptable level. A problem occurs when the standard has gone down compared to a previous high point or previously agreed standard. Problems are found where developments are needed within the existing situation in order to return to the original plan.

If you are trying to raise the standard above an existing or agreed level, then it is considered to be an opportunity...


An occasion offering a possibility or chance. A combination of favourable circumstances.

An opportunity occurs when you would like to improve the existing situation beyond that which currently exists or has existed before. If you are trying to raise the standard above an existing or known level, then it is considered to be an opportunity.


Because of the difficulty in determining the difference between a problem and an opportunity and because there are many negative implications in using the word "problem", the word probortunity has been created. Probortunity is the merging of the word "problem" and "opportunity".

A probortunity can take any form: challenge, question, mystery, concern, problem, puzzle, difficulty or opportunity.

Probortunity is an all-inclusive word to describe something you want to improve or change for the better.

Problem Solving

Problem solving is the process by which a situation is analyzed and solutions are formed to solve a probortunity (problem/opportunity - see above) and when steps are taken to remove or reduce the problem. The current problem and situation are analyzed, potential solutions are generated and a workable solution is determined and put into place. Problem solving is the process of analyzing situations of uncertainty to produce actual improvements or changes in the situation.

The problem-solving process comprises many different elements that can be used in varying degrees depending on the probortunity to be solved. Typical elements are:

  • Problem definition (part of understanding the problem)
  • Situation analysis (part of understanding the problem)
  • Idea generation
  • Analysis of ideas
  • Decision making
  • Determining the next steps to be taken to introduce the solution into the workplace
Different problems need different uses of these elements and often in different orders and quantities. The structure of the problem-solving process can be very different for different probortunities. For example, you may need to have many tries at the problem definition element to help establish the real challenge if the opportunity is initially vague.

(Note that problem solving is not the same as decision making. Decision making is one process of problem solving and is only concerned in deciding between different existing ideas. Problem solving includes the actual formation of those ideas. Problem solving can involve varying degrees of the problem analysis and solution generation elements compared to the decision-making part.)


A method of visually representing ideas and of aiding the brainstorming "free association" process. A visual method of mapping information to stimulate the generation and analysis of it. "A method of accessing intelligence, allowing rapid expansion and exploration of an idea in note form." (Tony Buzan)


Where a group of people gather to discuss what went wrong and who is to blame for a project's failure. Similar to the brainstorming rules, blamestorming requires vast flows of wild and exaggerated ideas with an initial emphasis on quantity rather than quality. It's also legitimate that blame given by one participant can be built on by others. However, unlike brainstorming, blamestorming requires total criticism and judgment of ideas, and an idea's worth is dependent on the management level of the person giving it.

Words relating to creative, creative thinking, lateral thinking and brainstorming:

creativeness, formation, innovate, innovation, invent, inventiveness, original, craftsmanship, author, creator, ferment, outburst, outbreak, beget, existence, concoct, devise, hatch, give birth, generate, spawn, initiate, establish, install, lead to, dream up, formulate, give life to, genesis, foundation, setting up, inception, artistic, fertile, ingenious, inspired, stimulation, visionary, cleverness, talent, architect, designer, father, mother, initiator, inventor, maker, originator, sideways, sidestep, consider, reckon, regard, suppose, surmise, propose, determine, cogitate, chew over, deliberate, muse, ponder, ruminate, reflect, weigh up, foresee, expect, conceivable, assessment, conclusions, contemplate, intelligent, philosophy, conjecture, visualize, theory, opinion, feasible, abstraction, impression, understanding, conviction, doctrine, interpretation, teaching, concept, hypothesis, suggestion, notion, discovery, principle, fantasy, brainchild, brainwave, explore, find, locate, hit upon, revelation, detection, expose, show up, elicit, sense, locate.

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