Also known as Brain Dump, Lateral Thinking.
There can be a number of formats by which a thought shower can be performed, some being more suited to team involvement while others can be done in groups or individuals.
The role of a solitary investigator / enforcement officer may be to ask a number of questions of a number of staff involved in the issue being explored. This form of methodical questioning can take the place of a team thought shower session.
Some popular formats for a Root Cause thought shower include:
- Structured (a formal system, where every team member takes turns)
- Unstructured (group free-for-all)
- Galleries (or flip charts, done by teams or individuals)
- Brain writing cards (or Post-it notes, which can be done in a group or individually)
An effective thought shower
It is important at this stage that ideas are not ranked, rated, discussed, evaluated, criticised or dismissed. This can lead to incomplete studies, wasted time or inaccurate analysis.
The thought shower session is one of the key elements to Root Cause Analysis, as anything dismissed or not considered at this stage will ultimately not be factored into the later stages and the solution.
No idea is too insignificant and if done using a team, these sessions have to be carefully planned and managed to ensure that the group is willing, enthused, appropriately briefed and able to perform the study without fear of recrimination or criticism.
One thing to establish is, “has this happened before?” either in the same or similar circumstances. Caution is needed here though, as the issue may have occurred before but for different reason(s).