Alternative Brainstorming – 4 Easy Steps to Awesome Innovation

You’ve got to come up with some big ideas. You think brainstorming is the answer. Now you just have to make it work without it becoming a Dilbert cartoon.

Brainstorming is a creativity method many people have used, and more may have joked about. We apply brainstorming to try to get the most out of a group while producing ideas, right?

It turns out there is plenty of research validating the sarcastic quips you hear. But there is hope. In one study two brainstorming groups went head to head. The primary group used traditional brainstorming for 20 minutes. The second group used their 20 minutes differently. They worked alone for five minutes. Then they grouped into a team and shared their ideas. The second group then returned to working as individuals. Then regrouped to share and conclude their thoughts.

The results of the second group’s approach were surprising. They produced far more insights and ideas than the group of traditional brainstormers.

The better performance was because traditional brainstorming has two key limitations.

In traditional brainstorming sessions, all participants all need to be extroverts. They must be aggressive in getting airtime in the group. Obviously, not everyone is equally capable in this regard, and some great ideas don’t get out. In contrast, the individual breakout for the second group resulted in more good ideas because everyone played.

The second drawback to traditional brainstorming is group-think. A charismatic delivery of an idea often results prematurely converging on it. However, by giving people time to contemplate alone you can reduce the impacts of group-think.

At ScapeHop, we’re keeping this in mind for our plans with Mind Map AR. Collaboration is important, but the individual focus is a critical component. Anything we can do to enhance individual exploration of a concept is something we need to consider. Augmented reality mind mapping experiences will be a compelling new tool for this.

In the meantime, put these four best practices to work. These will give your brainstorming exercises the same edge the second team in the study had.
  1. Give everyone the problem before a group session to consider it and develop ideas in advance.

  2. Get the group together and do a round-robin call out to capture each participant’s ideas. At this point, there is no need to prune or scrutinize the ideas. The group session helps participants see other perspectives. They can make connections they may have missed before.

  3. Next, shift back to individual mode. This gives participants time to build new ideas from their enhanced perspectives.

  4. Finally, get back together as a group for another round-robin session. Start the group dialog at this point to refine the thinking collectively.

With these four simple steps, your group will produce some awesome creativity output. And your brainstorming sessions won’t be the butt of any jokes.

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