CLASSROOM EXERCISES IN IDEA GENERATION
                          BRAINSTORMING AS A WAY OF LIFE
                          100 GREAT IDEAS IN A 1000 MINUTES

                           John Rumery, Grand Valley State University
                             Paul Lane, Grand Valley State University


In 2004, a large midwestern regional university introduced an Entrepreneurship Minor
A critical component for this program is the initial course; Entrepreneurship 150 (ENT
150). In this class, students are encouraged to develop a number of ideas Students are
then asked to differentiate these ideas into opportunities through a variety of exercises
and assignments throughout the semester.

To complement the current activities, a grant from the University’s Teaching and
Learning Center was used to develop new idea generation exercises. With this funding it
was possible to work with BrainReactions, a Madison, Wisconsin based business to
create a series of unique, student-oriented, brainstorming activities to be tested in the Fall
2006 classroom.

USASBE Workshop attendees will participate in one of these activities. Materials from
the class and the feedback from the Fall 2006 classes will also be shared with the

Executive Summary

The primary objective of the “idea generation” activities developed for ENT 150 is to
identify new and innovative products and services that can eventually be commercialized.

With a class of 20 students, we will generate 2000 ideas to explore. From this list,
it is hoped that there will be at least 1-2% real opportunities identified. These
“opportunities” will then be the foundation of each students project as they progress
through the program.

A secondary objective for this class is to maintain and enhance the “active learning”
environment that was envisioned when this program was created. This class is not
lecture based, but rather a creative laboratory. These are the student’s ideas. This is their
intellectual property. Through their efforts and abilities, the potential exists for each
student to have developed their own business or product for commercialization.
(Students who do not choose to work in this active learning environment quickly
discover the consequences of lack of effort and participation! This is not from the
facilitator but from watching their peers take off.)

A final objective for these activities is that students will develop skills that can also be
used to make them an “entrepreneurial” employee. In a paper by James
Bell, he cites a book, Ideas are Free: How The Idea Revolution is Liberating People and
Transforming Organization, by Alan Robinson and Dean Schroeder, that highlights how
critical it is for employees to be more alert to opportunities to assist their organizations
in providing better products and services. (Bell 2006) Being able to effectively
“brainstorm” solutions, either individually or in groups, to problems can be a key
component to developing this “alertness”.

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