Robert Sutton is delivering 8 tips to improve your group brainstorming sessions in Businessweek. He is also quoting a Wall Street Journal article entitled “Brainstorming Works Best if People Scramble For Ideas on Their Own.” This will remind our readers of another post where some Dutch researchers claimed that Group Brainstorming does not work well (is group creativity a pipe dream?). Sutton’s response to that claim is very clear and sets the records right: “[…] it is total nonsense to conclude that if you want creativity, you ought to keep your people in solitary confinement where they can’t “waste time” listening to and building on the ideas of others”.
8 tips to improve your group brainstorming sessions
His point is that although badly run creativity workshops can be counterproductive, most studies aimed at proving that group creativity doesn’t work miss the point completely because they fail to take into account the fact that one switches very often from group to individual creativity and without even noticing it. In fact, with Directed Creativity, one does notice it.
The Group Creativity exercise is mostly a means to verify assumptions, focus ideas on a few items, avoid people from getting side-tracked and ensuring result as well as unleashing creativity. Wow! You might that’s a challenge and you would be right, but this is the right thing to do. Here are Sutton’s 8 tips in short:
- Use group brainstorming to generate new ideas, not just pick up old or existing ones (in fact, this is why upstream preparation is intended for),
- Don’t do it if your participants are afraid of being sanctioned for suggesting new ideas,
- Do individual brainstorming before and after group brainstorming session (music to my ears that one! Part of the preparation phase of my innovation workshops at Orange Business Services of course),
- Group Brainstorming session useless if not combined to other activities such as observing users, talking to experts, building prototypes … ,
- Requires skills and expertise to conduct brainstorming session and facilitate the workshop. This is why I am developing Innovation Induction webinars at Orange Business Services in order to spread the word internally and train future facilitators beyond the ones we have already,
- Foster positive Market definition in B2B and B2C - The very notion of "market" is at the heart of any marketing approach. A market can be defined...: for instance by giving bonuses to reward good idea generators,
- Use brainstorm sessions to get beyond idea generation. This is one of my staples at Orange Business Services too. I cannot envisage a brainstorm session without thinking about the projects that we could launch and how we could launch them and also identify the change agents in a group. This is fundamental,
- A brainstorm session rules are compulsory. Once again a very important point. I am very serious about my brainstorming rules which I have rewritten and displaying too.
I really recommend that article to you.