Do you ever cringe when someone suggests the group should “brainstorm” for ideas? The Dilbert cartoon above may depict a brainstorming session you’ve attended. There’s usually one person (i.e., the boss above) in the group who sets unrealistic parameters and expects results. Some might even be told how to generate ideas like Wally (the guy on the left). Everyone who participates feels it’s a waste of time. It doesn’t have to be that way.
As someone who’s trained in facilitating groups using innovative and critical thinking skills, I have worked with many teams to achieve results using a variety of idea generation techniques. According to Puccio, Murdock and Mance (2007), there are four simple guidelines to remember:
1) Defer Judgment – don’t judge anyone’s ideas, including your own
2) Go for Quantity – generate as many ideas as you can
3) Make Connections – build your thoughts on the ideas of others
4) Seek Novelty – allow for unusual and unique ideas to flourish
By using these guidelines, your next idea generation session will go more smoothly. Everyone involved will feel like something was accomplished and their input was valued. No one wants to sit in a brainstorming session and wonder why nothing is ever achieved. Do yourself and others a favor, use the guidelines above when you are seeking new ideas from everyone. You may even find the solution to your problem.
What are your thoughts?
In what areas of your life would you use the four tips for idea generation? How might the tips be useful?
- Puccio, G. J., Murdock, M.C., & Mance, M. (2007). Creative leadership: Skills that drive change. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.