I had a chat with Natalie Reed of The Strategy Distillery about whether brainstorming works and if there are better alternatives.
Need to generate some new ideas or suggestions? I bet you have turned to brainstorming a few times over the years. Do you love those sessions or hate them? Unfortunately, though, it doesn’t always work. Here, I’ll tell you how it could be letting your team down, and how you can use Brain-writing instead.
There are two main reasons why brainstorming doesn’t always work:
- Brainstorming encourages a group to generate creative ideas verbally, without much censorship, and usually this means that only the most vocal people (who are often in the more senior roles!) tend to get properly involved. The shy people could be the ones holding the next big breakthrough ideas but are too scared to come forward with them.
- In a group situation, people feel pressure to conform and as a result, they immediately rally around whatever idea is first presented as a solution to the problem at hand. Many people have a stronger need for social acceptance than for correct solutions, and brainstorming encourages this.
So what are the alternatives? Introducing Brain-writing
Brain-writing was developed by sociologist Loran Nordgren and is an idea-generating method that involves everyone in the group equally. .
How does Brain-writing work?
At the beginning of the meeting, people write down their ideas. Then everyone comes together to share those ideas out loud, one by one. Participants post all the ideas on a wall (without anyone’s name attached). Following this everyone builds on the ideas and votes are cast for the best.
When does Brain-writing work?
- When a group has a limited time to discuss problems/issues
- When there are several shy/reserved/ introspective people in a group or different levels of authority
- When ideas need to flow freely without any censorship
- When there are many individual problems that require solutions
So, next time your team needs to generate ideas or solutions – give brain-writing a go and let the ideas flow!