Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Workplace as Solar System

[28 October 2006 - New York Times] CLEARER THINKING Just the word “brainstorming” elicits a lot of eye rolling in most offices, writes Michael Myser in Business 2.0.

But the problem, he says, is not with the concept of brainstorming, but the way it is done.

“Most often, modern brainstorming involves a group of people sitting around a conference room, staring into space, and waiting for ideas to come. But in its true form, it’s a rigidly structured process,” he writes, adding that Alex F. Osborn, who coined the term in his 1953 book “Applied Imagination,” laid out three vital steps.

First, there needs to be a facilitator trained in drawing out the best ideas. Groups using a facilitator come up with 600 percent more ideas than those that don’t, said Scott Isaksen, founder of the Creative Problem Solving Group.

Second, there need to be clear guidelines — for example, the session will last no more than 45 minutes and criticism or judgment of the ideas that emerge should wait until the session is over.

Third, participants should prepare in advance for the session.

Given how badly it is usually done, it sounds as if most companies could use a brainstorming session to figure out how they should brainstorm. More

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