“The clever combatant looks to the effect of combined energy,
and does not require too much from individuals”
– Sun Tzu
Group brainstorming is common practice in today’s business world. The saying “two heads are better than one” is often true and organizations realize there is strength is numbers when it comes to generating ideas to solve problems or create new products.
Inspiration can strike anyone, at any time, so it’s a good idea to hear from as many people as possible when you need a fresh take on something.
A productive brainstorming session can be hard to come by though. There are many aspects that affect brainstorming sessions like environment, number of brainstorming participants, the relationship between those participant, and the nature of the problem you’re trying to solve, just to name a few.
Because brainstorming is critical to problem-solving and idea generation, I decided to write two posts on the subject – one today, the other later this week.
Today I want to talk about how you can create an environment that fosters brainstorming by encouraging massive amounts of inspiration.
While sitting down in a conference room and asking for opinions may be the most common way to brainstorm, we have to ask, is it the best?
Evidence would say no.
This article in LifeHacker takes a look at the history of brainstorming. People still rely on it because it works…eventually.
“I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”
The key thing we forget in today’s rapid pace world is that good ideas take time. Sure, you can reserve that conference room for an hour, but don’t expect one hour to produce a million dollar idea. Great ideas come out of lots of bad or merely good, ideas.
It follows then, that more brainstorming is a good idea. You can’t wait in that conference room for brilliance to strike- you could be there for weeks!
What to do?
Take advantage of group meetings to let people know that there are truly no bad ideas. Bad ideas are simply lining the road for great ideas. Let workers know you have to start somewhere. Don’t mock, get upset or punish people for generating ideas that won’t work, aren’t reasonable or otherwise judged to be “bad” – there are no bad ideas, remember?
Strive to encourage workers to generate ideas even when they’re not in a brainstorming session. Let them email you ideas that occur to them outside of meetings. Inspiration could come at 11pm on a Tuesday, so keep the channel of communication open at all times.
Both at group meetings and outside of them, look for a huge number of ideas. The more the merrier! Did you know Einstein, best known for his paper on relativity, published 248 other papers? Rembrandt produced about 650 paintings and 2,000 drawings while Picasso produced more than 20,000 works of art. The characteristic they all share is massive productivity. You may very well end up combining aspects of a few different ideas to form the one great idea you’re looking for. Remember: no idea is a bad idea. You want to hear them all.
With this kind of attitude in your workspace, people will feel more comfortable sharing their ideas. This leads to better communication, better camaraderie in the office, and a better atmosphere overall. You want people to work together to create something amazing. Take the time to practice these group brainstorming habits and I promise that you will, indeed, create amazing work.
Stay tuned for the next post where I will share a few things you don’t want to do when it comes to group brainstorming – now go out and produce massively 🙂