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Brainstorming is a group creativity technique by which a group tries to find a solution for a specific problem by gathering a list of ideas spontaneously contributed by its members. The term was popularized by Alex Faickney Osborn in 1953. Following these principles were his four general rules of brainstorming, established with intention to reduce social inhibitions among group members, stimulate idea generation, and increase overall creativity of the group.

1. Focus on quantity: The assumption is that the greater the number of ideas generated, the greater the chance of producing a radical and effective solution.
2. Withhold criticism: In brainstorming, criticism of ideas generated should be put 'on hold'. Instead, participants should focus on extending or adding to ideas, reserving criticism for a later 'critical stage' of the process. By suspending judgment, participants will feel free to generate unusual ideas.
3. Welcome unusual ideas: To get a good and long list of ideas, unusual ideas are welcomed. They can be generated by looking from new perspectives and suspending assumptions. These new ways of thinking may provide better solutions.
4. Combine and improve ideas: Good ideas may be combined to form a single better good idea.

Even though there has been arguments about its productivity, brainstorming is still a widely used method for coming up with creative solutions. It’s still an area under research and improvements or variations are still developing in progress. Many of these methods claimed to be more efficient than the original brainstorming however, there are too many factors that can alter the outcome of brainstorming. Therefore, how well these methods work, and whether or not they should be classified as being more effective than brainstorming, are questions that require further research.

(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brainstorming)