Tips On Brainstorming

A Critical Doer attacks problems and creates opportunities from the inside out 

I’ve been working a couple of projects on reengineering an organization.  The intent of both projects is to better posture an organization for success as the demand signal for its products and the operating environment are rapidly evolving.

Like many creative efforts, assembling a team of diverse thinkers to begin brainstorming and eventually distilling that work into a strategy was the first step.  I’ve led many efforts like this and had a certain expectation of how the effort would play out.  This time…I was wrong.

The group had a large dispersion in time and experience with the organization.  Those with more time and experience quickly dominated the discussion and largely excluded those with less experience but possessed the invaluable quality of a less well-defined sense of what couldn’t be done.  We eventually got the effort back on track but it was a lesson to me that there were some techniques in conducting brainstorming sessions I still needed to learn.  I went in search of publications to see what others had learned and in one of my favorite places, the Harvard Business Review, found the best article I’ve read on brainstorming and critical thinking in a while.

“Finding Innovation Where You Least Expect It” by Tom McCaffrey and Jim Pearson is a great read that will expand your toolkit for leading creative thinking efforts by orders of magnitude.  Techniques to avoid the thinking traps of goal and function fixation are priceless.  The anecdote of the Titanic is pure wisdom…to a sailor an iceberg is a hazard, but in thinking critically a large solid mass capable of supporting hundreds of people could have potentially saved many more lives.  Using silence and conducting brainstorming via writing rather than verbally where certain personalities can prevent brilliant thinking from less forceful personalities from seeing the light of day is also brilliant and a technique I could have used…and will going forward.

Read this article and you will greatly enhance your capability to lead creative thinking events and the quality of the effort will soar as your harness the brilliance of your entire team.  I don’t think there is an industry left where resources are so plentiful that brilliance can be ignored.  Put these techniques to use and gain a competitive advantage through timely, creative, and clear thinking that guides your action.  It’s what a Critical Doer would…do!


Reminder:  you can get automatic updates from The Critical Doer by using the subscription widget at the top of this post.  You can also follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.  I also encourage you to let me know what you think of the posts or share a story of your own using the comments section or email me directly at [email protected].

Updated: December 5, 2015 — 2:42 pm