Group Brainstorming is Broken
Posted on September 27, 2023 at 10:30 am | Organizational Development
Brainstorming is defined as a group creativity technique by which efforts are made to find a conclusion for a specific problem by gathering a list of ideas spontaneously contributed by its members. Pretty much, it involves “throwing ideas at the wall and seeing what sticks,” as the marketing people put it.
While we’re all familiar with brainstorming sessions, did you know that the concept was actually developed in 1939 by an advertising executive? That’s almost a century ago! More than a few things in the world have changed in that time, and I think the entire idea would benefit from serious updating.
I’m convinced that group brainstorming is broken and that there’s a better way to get results. We used a new method to develop an incredible plan of action (Operation TURBO) for our ISI team, and I’m convinced it will help your organization generate fresh ideas quickly and easily. I call it the Concept Conveyor.
Here’s how it works.
1. Map out the problem and agree on an initial target. (For ISI Consulting: We need to increase our gross revenue by 30% to keep up with increasing expenses.)
2. Share the problem and target with your team and then give them protected time to work independently to come up with possible solutions. Give them the freedom to use whatever tools suit them best. (Our individual team members used different approaches, including one-on-one meetings, web searching, reading trend analyses documents, drawing, and praying).
Why on earth did we do this when our team all likes one another and gets along?
We know that individuals working alone generate better solutions than groups brainstorming out loud. Working alone offers time to do research, find inspiration, and think about the problem. And the pressure of responsibility that comes with working alone often spurs us to our best work.
3. Schedule a meeting to share the concepts everyone has developed, and then decide what ideas you would like to pursue together as a group. This is where the Concept Conveyor starts moving! (Our ISI Consulting team members were giddy to share our ideas, because we each knew we’d had the time to think and develop good ones. In fact, I was told to be quiet and to stop interrupting!) Once everyone shared their best ideas, we discussed all of them and mapped everything out in the hallway to come up with our immediate strategy. The strategies we developed have teeth to them, because our team members had time to research, think, make some phone calls, and really go deep into what steps were needed. They weren’t simply throwing random ideas at the wall.
4. Finally, type up your masterpiece of ideas and decide when you will meet next. We assigned each individual as the “lead” on a particular strategy. If you’re a larger organization, you may assign a team as the lead. Just remember that ownership brings results.
Why don’t you give the Concept Conveyor a try? It’s just a matter of slowing down in the beginning to get a better result in the end.
PS – Check out our updated Who We Are section on our website.