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The Brainstorming Process Is B.S. But Can We Rework It?

The Brainstorming Process Is B.S. But Can We Rework It?
The business practice of brainstorming has been around with us so long that it seems like unadorned common sense: If you want a rash of new ideas, you get a group of people in a room, have them shout things out, and make sure not to criticize, because that sort of self-censoring is sure to kill the flow of new thoughts. It wasn’t always so: This entire process was invented by Alex Osborn, one of the founders of BBDO, in the 1940's. It was motivated by Osborn’s own theory of creativity. He thought, quite reasonably, that creativity was both brittle and fickle: In the presence of criticism, it simply couldn’t wring itself free from our own minds. We could only call our muses if judgments didn’t drag us down. Osborn claimed that this very brainstorming process was the secret to BBDO’s durable creativity, allowing his ad guys to produce as many as 87 ideas in 90 minutes--a veritable avalanche. You’re More Creative Working Alone Lehrer doesn’t quite explain why that happens. Why is that? Related:  Collaboration

Websites Let People Farm Out Chores Killing Creativity: Why Kids Draw Pictures of Monsters & Adults Don't | Moments of Genius What's the Big Idea? The Monster Engine is one of the best ideas I’ve come across. It’s a book, demonstration, lecture and gallery exhibition created by Dave Devries. The premise is simple: children draw pictures of monsters and Devries paints them realistically. According to the website, the idea was born in 1998 when Devries took an interest in his niece’s doodles. But Devries had a larger goal: he wanted to always see things as a child. Growing up, to be sure, has its benefits. Age doesn’t necessarily squander our creative juices, but when we make the leap from elementary school to middle school our worldview becomes more realistic and cynical. A study conducted several years ago by Darya Zabelina and Michael Robinson of North Dakota State University gives us a simple remedy. You are 7 years old. The second group was given the same prompt minus the first sentence. Next, the psychologists asked their subjects to take ten minutes to write a response. What's the Significance?

Brainstorming Doesn’t Really Work In the late nineteen-forties, Alex Osborn, a partner in the advertising agency B.B.D.O., decided to write a book in which he shared his creative secrets. At the time, B.B.D.O. was widely regarded as the most innovative firm on Madison Avenue. Born in 1888, Osborn had spent much of his career in Buffalo, where he started out working in newspapers, and his life at B.B.D.O. began when he teamed up with another young adman he’d met volunteering for the United War Work Campaign. “Your Creative Power” was filled with tricks and strategies, such as always carrying a notebook, to be ready when inspiration struck. The book outlined the essential rules of a successful brainstorming session. Brainstorming was an immediate hit and Osborn became an influential business guru, writing such best-sellers as “Wake Up Your Mind” and “The Gold Mine Between Your Ears.” The underlying assumption of brainstorming is that if people are scared of saying the wrong thing, they’ll end up saying nothing at all.

Strategic Questions for an Accelerating World - Colin Raney by Colin Raney | 11:21 AM April 9, 2012 If you feel like the pace of competition is increasing, you’re right. Tectonic shifts in culture and technology over the past decade have rapidly accelerated change in the market. As a result, business strategy today is less about conceiving and executing a brilliant master plan and more about shaping an organization that can quickly launch and learn from smart innovations. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Giving Constructive Feedback Performance feedback can be given two ways: through constructive feedback or through praise and criticism. Don't fall into the trap of giving praise and criticism on employee performance. Constructive feedback is information-specific, issue-focused, and based on observations. Positive feedback is news or input to an employee about an effort well done. Negative feedback is news to an employee about an effort that needs improvement. The guidelines for giving constructive feedback fall into four categories: content, manner, timing, and frequency. Content Content is what you say in the constructive feedback. In your first sentence, identify the topic or issue that the feedback will be about.Provide the specifics of what occurred. Without the specifics, you only have praise or criticism. Manner Manner is how you say the constructive feedback. Timing Timing answers this question: When do you give an employee feedback for a performance effort worth acknowledging? Frequency

The Making of an Innovation Master - Scott Anthony by Scott Anthony | 12:01 PM March 23, 2012 A workshop attendee asked me this seemingly simple question: “So, what else should I read to learn more about innovation?” It’s a hard question to answer because there is so much high-quality material out there. And specific recommendations depend on the specific topic about which you are most curious. But in thinking it through, I did eventually end up with a highly personal list I call “The Masters of Innovation” (which appears in my latest book). So what makes a Master? Do the individual’s ideas bring clarity to the quest of improving the predictability and productivity of innovation? These three questions lead to obviously biased selections. There were a ton of great thinkers that didn’t quite make the cut, such as Chip and Dan Heath, Geoffrey Moore, Constantinos Markides, Robert Burgelman, Henry Mintzberg, Gary Hamel, Michael Tushman, W. One natural question is, “Who is next?” 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

The Penguin and The Leviathan: How Cooperation Triumphs Over Self Interest I am enjoying hearing about this new book Yochai Benkler from Harvard University, also author of the Wealth of Networks. The argument he makes is that humans are not purely self-interested creatures. In this interview the question is asked "How did we even get ourselves into a position where we have to make that argument?" Benkler replies "If we look at the 40 year trajectory you might think of as scientific selfishness. Benkler goes on to describe how the rise of this thinking coincides with the period of the cold war and that these clash of ideologies - principally collectivism and capitalism, made it easy to adopt the model because we had a 'then and us' situation. The case that Benkler makes is not entirely new - but I like the way that he describes his thinking and I do think that this book makes a hugely valuable contribution to trying to shift the mindset away from designing policy and systems which call on the more negative human qualities.

Does Creativity Require Constraints? Research suggests you'd be more creative if I allow your mind to roam free. When people are given the task of imagining alien creatures, most use specific instances (e.g., joe the plumber) as their starting point. This effect is especially pronounced when creatures are described as being intelligent and capable of space travel. Even science fiction writers aren't immune to this effect: content analyses of creatures invented by science fiction writers show striking similarities to animals here on earth: bilateral symmetry, and the presence of legs and eyes represented symmetrically in heads at the tops of bodies. Most science fiction writers aren't all that imaginative! Creativity involves variability— different ways of doing things. In many domains, there are issues that have not yet been resolved, questions that have not yet been posed, and problems that have no obvious solution. What are these constraints? Stokes lists four such constraints.

Five Millennial Myths If you believe the conventional wisdom, everyone under the age of 30 is needy and narcissistic. They want the corner office and a company car, but they aren’t truly committed to their organization. They don’t take kindly to criticism, but can be easily won over with the next hot gadget. Such stereotypes of millennials abound, and some may have a degree of truth. But as this massive cohort enters the workforce in increasing numbers, can companies afford to put their trust in these types of characterizations? I’ve seen many corporate leaders and human resources departments twist themselves in knots trying to accommodate what media and marketers have told them are the preferences of this new generation of employees. For the past 12 years, I have studied the so-called generation gap through empirical research, and have found that stereotypes of millennials in the workplace are inconsistent at best and destructive at worst. Myth #1: Millennials don’t want to be told what to do.

Strategy, Context, and the Decline of Sony - Sohrab Vossoughi by Sohrab Vossoughi | 10:55 AM April 25, 2012 Sometimes it’s useful to be reminded that a great strategy is only great in context. From the early 1980s and into the 90s, Sony’s was great. The unrivaled master of the consumer electronics world, its name was synonymous with cutting-edge technology, sophistication, and desirability. That last statement is still true today, but everything else has changed. Both observations are correct, but they only hint at the underlying question: why is the strategy that once served Sony so well now failing so badly? Part of the shift is technological. This suggests a more fundamental explanation: consumers today care more about the experience, but Sony is still focused on the product. In the experience economy, these expectations are reversed. What’s tragic is that Sony still has all the resources to execute well on a new strategy. What’s missing is the strategic vision to emphasize the delivery of powerful and resonant user experiences.

50 Open Source Technologies / Projects to Look Out For in 2012 The open source movement continues to strengthen every year, such that no matter who you are, what software you use, what book you read, whatever you do somewhere along the line open source software is in use. Apache continues to be the most popular web server, the public domain SQLite lies deep within nearly every mobile OS, and any software that deals with lots of data. Firefox and Chrome, both open source -- although to different extents -- now make up for a majority of the internet populace. It’s safe to say the open source movement has been a huge success. 2011 has been a good year for open source, and now we look forward to what we think are some important things to look out for in 2012 in the field of open source. HTML5 / CSS3 / JavaScript etc. A number of standards are emerging that make 2012 an interesting year for web standards. Mozilla Boot2Gecko WebAPI WordPress Wordpress' meteoric rise is far from over. Django Apache Flex Mozilla Firefox Google Chrome Apache Callback jQuery Mobile

Mental Nimbleness for Executive and How to Enhance It  The more the business environment changes, the faster the value of what you know at any point in time diminishes. In this world, success hinges on the ability to participate in a growing array of knowledge flows in order to rapidly refresh your knowledge stocks. John Hagel, John Seely Brown, Lane Davison While new knowledge flows are important, they are not enough! The illustration below is a New System of Engagement. Seeing new possibilities requires a mindshift–a new way of envisioning what is relevant and meaningful to customers. Netflix, Zappos and Groupon are three great examples of companies who exploited the potential of technology and leveraged the growing number of customers online. The mindshift that underlies companies like Netflix, Zappos and Groupon are far from second nature for most executives. With the pace of change and innovation, especially disruptive innovation, executives with high adaptive potential are critical to their company’s future.

You're Hired. Now Figure Things Out (With The Help Of This Whimsical Handbook) In Douglas Adams’ famous book series, The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, space traveler Arthur Dent carries with him a galactic guidebook with the two words on the cover: “Don’t Panic.” Solid advice for a hapless spaceman. And perhaps for new hires, too. On the first day of work, employees at Valve Software are handed a 56-page employee handbook (which hit the Internet this week, and where we got the illustrations in this story) and a desk with wheels. For many, the first few days at a new job feel like life on a new planet. Valve, maker of popular video games like Half-Life and Portal, hires at least two or three new people each month, according to product designer and founding team member Greg Coomer. Does Valve's employee handbook make you jealous? If you find yourself walking down the hall one morning with a bowl of fresh fruit and Stumptown-roasted espresso, dropping off your laundry to be washed, and heading into one of the massage rooms, don’t freak out.

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