'Educators should learn to use and interpret the basic strategies that are most frequently applied to quality improvement.'
Stanley J Spanbauer, A Quality System for Education
There is a need to turn philosophy into practice and to develop practical means by which teams within education can achieve quality improvement. Quality tools and techniques are the means of identifying and creatively solving problems. One of the powerful aspects of TQM is the bringing together of a range of useful tools to implement its underlying concepts. However, the power of the tools can only be experienced by regular use. Most are simple and some, like brainstorming, are already in regular use. It is important to find the right tools for the job and train staff in their proper use. With practice such tools can become part of the decision-making culture of the institution.
Brainstorming, developed by Alex Osborn in the late 1940s, is a classic technique of creative group thinking. It is based on the notion that we often tend to evaluate ideas at too early a stage of their development and this can lead to good ideas being rejected at source. In place of evaluation, ideas are put forward and recorded without judgement and so the processes of creating ideas and evaluating them are separated
Brainstorming is an ideal TQM tool. It is also enjoyable and productive to use. It taps into the creativity of a team and allows team members to generate ideas and issues quickly. A successful brainstorm allows staff to be inventive and free from restriction. However, it has limitations. While it excites the imagination and stimulates ideas, it is not a tool for analysis.