Risk Management Toolkit

Support Assets



Risk Management home

Process Assets
Standard Process
  • Definitions
  • Steps of Process
  • Tailoring Guidelines


  • Self Assessment
  • Compliance Process
  • CMMI Risk Management Goals
  • Risk Review


  • AF Policy Directive 90-9: Operational Risk Management, 1 April 2000
  • AFI 90-901: Operational Risk Management, 1 April 2000
  • AFMC Instruction 90-902: Operational Risk Management, Dec 2007

    Support Assets
  • Affinity Diagrams
  • Brainstorming
  • Risk Plotting
  • Risk Statements

  • Taxonomies

  • Individual
  • Consolidated
  • Risk Areas

    Tools & Techniques

  • RiskNav
  • Risk Matrix
  • Risk Radar
  • Cost Risk and Uncertainty - Chapter 14, GAO Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide, Mar 09


  • Risk Process Orientation
  • Detailed Risk Process
  • Facilitator Training


  • Sample Risk Management Plan
  • Process Lessons Learned


    What is it?
    Brainstorming is used solely for generating ideas; it does not involve analysis.

    • Generate a variety of ideas in a short time
    • Produce new and creative ideas

    How to do it
    The goal of brainstorming is to generate ideas. Before you start, make sure everyone in your group understands the importance of postponing judgements until after the brainstorming session is completed.

    • Write the problem or topic on a blackboard or flipchart where all participants can see it
    • Write all ideas on the board and do as little editing as possible
    • Number each idea for future reference
    • Use one of the following brainstorming techniques: structured brainstorming free-form brainstorming, or silent brainstorming.

    In structured brainstorming

    • Solicit one idea from each person in sequence
    • Participants who don't have an idea at the moment may say "pass."
    • A complete round of passes ends the brainstorming session
    • The advantage of structured brainstorming is that each person has an equal chance to participate, regardless of rank or personality
    • The disadvantage of strucutred brainstorming is that it lacks spontaneity and can be somwhat rigid.

    In free-form (or unstructured) brainstorming

    • Participants simply contribute ideas as they come to mind
    • The advantage of free-form brainstorming is that participants can build off each other's ideas. The atmosphere is very relaxed.
    • The disadvantage of free-form brainstorming is that the less assertive or low-ranking participants may not contribute.

    An ideal approach is to combine these two methods. Begin the session with a few rounds of structured brainstorming and finish up with a period of unstructured brainstorming.

    In silent brainstorming

    • Have participants write ideas individually on sticky-back notes or small slips of paper.
    • Collect the papers and post them for all to see.
    • The advantage of silent brainstorming is that it prevents individuals from making disruptive "analysis" comments during the brainstorming session.
    • The disadvantage of silent brainstorming is that the group loses the synergy that comes from an open session.

    Silent brainstorming is best used in combination with other brainstorming techniques.

    The result of a brainstorming session is a list of ideas. If this list is too long, the group can boil it down using one of the decision-making tools such as an affinity diagram.

    Points to remember

    Never judge ideas as they are generated. The goal of brainstorming is to generate a lot of ideas in a short time. Analysis of these ideas is a separate process, to be done later

    Don't quit at the first lull. All brainstorming sessions reach lulls, which are uncomfortable for the participants. Research indicates that most of the best ideas occur during the last part of the session. Try to encourage the group to push through at least two or three lulls.

    Try to write down all of the ideas exactly as they were presented. When you condense an idea to one or two words for ease of recording, you are doing analysis. Analysis should be done later.

    Encourage outrageous ideas. While these ideas may not be practical, they may start a flow of creative ideas that can be used. This can help you break through a lull.

    Try to have a diverse group. Involve process owners, customers, and suppliers to obtain a diverse set of ideas from several perspectives.

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