Five-Step Creative Alternative to Brainstorming

by | Updated February 7, 2018 | Business & Leadership, Project Management

Brainstorming

Quick question. You need to solve a problem which is both challenging and important. You want to get people thinking creatively, and you want to get ideas from a lot of different people. Because of the importance of the issue, you are willing to consider just about any idea. You reach into your toolbox and what do you pull out? If your answer is “Brainstorming” you might want to think again.

"brainstorming doesn't work"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you Google search “brainstorming doesn’t work” (with quotes), you get over 48,000 results, many of them citing a New Yorker article from 2016 that made the case that, well, brainstorming doesn’t work.

If this is news to you, you can be forgiven for thinking that brainstorming works. I think it does – I have been in brainstorming sessions that worked. It might be more accurate to say that there are significant issues with brainstorming and that there are better ways to come up with creative ideas than ‘classic brainstorming.’

Issues with Brainstorming

There are a lot of issues with brainstorming. A Harvard Business Review article from March 25, 2015, “Why Group Brainstorming Is a Waste of Time” lists four:

  1. Social loafing, the idea that an individual will be carried by the team,
  2. Social anxiety, a fear of evaluation by others that cannot be erased by saying ‘there is no such thing as a bad idea’,
  3. Regression to the mean, where the most talented idea generators will lower their potential to match the group, and
  4. Production backlog, where the number of ideas presented by each person declines as the size of the group increases.

Other sources add other items to the list. An article from Forbes magazine from October 8, 2014, “Brainstorming Doesn’t Work — Do This Instead” points out that extroverts tend to dominate brainstorming sessions reducing the number of ideas that might be generated by introverts, and that the phenomenon of ‘group think’ actually limits the creativity of a group of people, as participants gravitate towards a few ideas. Another often cited issue with brainstorming is the lack of time to prepare or consider ideas.

Better than Brainstorming

Here is a five-step alternative that has worked for me.

  1. Conduct a meeting with the people you would like involved in solving the problem. Ensure that everyone has a clear understanding of the problem you are trying to solve. Explain that you will reconvene in a week and that when you reconvene each person should be prepared to provide a one or two sentence description of his or her five (or more) best ideas to solve the problem.
  2. Follow-up during the week. If people are stuck coming up with ideas, there are plenty of resources available for creative ideation. Make sure that everyone has at least five ideas before you reconvene.
  3. When you reconvene, circle through the group, allowing each person to present one idea at a time until all of the ideas have been presented. This can be followed by something that resembles brainstorming – ideas might generate other ideas and they should be discussed. But unlike brainstorming, in this discussion, it is okay to (respectfully) suggest problems with ideas.
  4. Summarize each of the ideas discussed in the meeting and make sure every participant has a copy of the notes. Give the team another week to evaluate all of the ideas presented, and come back with a ranked list of the best five ideas they have. Explain that the best ideas might be new, or a combination of ideas. In addition, ask the team to consider the pluses and minuses of each idea.
  5. Score the ideas based on the rankings of the group prior to a final meeting. In the final meeting, consolidate the lists of pluses and minuses, ensuring that everyone has a chance to discuss them.

At this point, you will have given everyone a chance to come up with ideas, discuss ideas, and consider the qualities of each idea. You might not have an easy decision to make at this point, but making a decision is a different subject.

This approach will take longer than a single brainstorming session, both in duration and in the effort invested by every individual. But I started with the assumption that the problem you are facing is both challenging and important. For a problem like that, it might be worth side-stepping some of the problems of brainstorming.

Related Posts

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Upcoming Events

march

03mar10:00 am10:30 amThe Modern Manufacturer - MRP vs. MPS – What, When and How

03mar2:00 pm2:30 pmLot Management Best Practices for Batch Manufacturers

10mar10:00 am10:30 amEnhancing the Customer Experience and Driving More Business with Dynamics 365 Customer Service

10mar2:00 pm2:30 pmThe Five Steps to Managing Sales Tax

11mar11:00 am12:00 pmConfab with Stoneridge - Livestream - Power Apps Component Framework Power Hour

17mar10:00 am10:30 amThe Modern Manufacturer: Pro Tips for your Finance Team

24mar10:00 am10:30 amUnlock the Potential of Digital Marketing with Dynamics 365 Marketing

25mar11:00 am12:00 pmConfab with Stoneridge - Livestream - The Four Keys to Choosing the Best ERP or CRM Solution

31mar10:00 am10:30 amThe Modern Manufacturer: Keys to Reporting Success

31mar01aprTraining Class: Financial Reporting W/Account Schedules for Dynamics 365 Business Central

april

31mar01aprTraining Class: Financial Reporting W/Account Schedules for Dynamics 365 Business Central

07apr10:00 am10:30 amBoost Seller Productivity and Close More Business with Dynamics 365 Sales

07apr2:00 pm2:30 pmEnsuring Quality for Batch Manufacturers

08apr11:00 am12:00 pmJumping into the Deep End of the Data Lake

14apr10:00 am10:30 amThe Modern Manufacturer: Cost Accounting in D365

22apr11:00 am12:00 pmMoving from Manual to Automated with Strategic Automation Strategies

28apr10:00 am10:30 amThe Modern Manufacturer: Best Practices for Inventory Turn

About Stoneridge
Stoneridge Software is a unique Microsoft Gold Partner, with emphasis on partner. With specialties in Microsoft Dynamics 365, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Microsoft Dynamics GP and Microsoft Dynamics CRM, we focus on attracting the most knowledgeable experts in the field to our team, and prioritize delivering stellar solutions with maximum impact for your business. At Stoneridge, we are deeply committed to your results. Each engagement is met with a dedicated team, ready to provide thorough, tailored, and expert service. Based in Minnesota, we intentionally “step into your shoes,” wherever you are. We focus on what you care about, and develop trusting, long-term relationships with our clients.

Subscribe To Our Blog

Sign up to get periodic updates on the latest posts.

Thank you for subscribing!

X