Tag Archives: brainstorming

5 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Generating Ideas

5 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Generating Ideas

All organizations need to generate ideas to drive their business forward. They generate ideas in a brainstorm. Brainstorming, when done well can catalyze dormant ideas. But it can result in wasted time and resources when done wrong. How can you execute a better brainstorming session and make sure it doesn’t result in wasted time and resources?

How Do You Fight Cognitive Bias So That You Can Be Open To All Avenues Of The Future?

what you know limits what you can imagineEvery once in a while I get emails from business people and students asking for advice on all types of challenges they’re facing. A recent one has to do with brainstorming for innovation, specifically how to fight cognitive bias so the group can be open to all avenues of the future.

Innovation must reads of the week: Why trends are for suckers

Innovation must reads of the week: Why trends are for suckers

Storified by Jorge Barba · Sat, Jul 07 2012 22:51:01

New blog post: Are You Entering a Market or Building One? It’s a very important distinction http://bit.ly/NjqC4S #innovationTim Kastelle

When you’re launching a new innovation, you must think carefully about the type of market that you are in. If you are building a market, the main objective needs to be learning. In that case, you can launch something that looks like the Apple I. In fact, you’re probably better off launching something like that fast, because that will accelerate the learning.

When you’re building markets, you need to be building dynamic business models that evolve. That’s why the Apple I looks so different from what we see now from Apple. More than anything else, it’s because they were operating in a very different type of market then.

Great angle on "ambidextrous" organizations by @Grant27: Every Company Should Build a Second Corporation – http://s.hbr.org/NsIgFA #strategyRalph-Christian Ohr
Everyone knows that we live in a world of tremendous change. But our response has been what Andy Grove calls building a better fire house. We are committing to getting faster and more agile. But there’s an absolute limit to have fast we can get. Many corporations run pretty good fire houses as it is. They can’t get a lot faster. The world doesn’t care. It’s going to get much, much faster. Time to rebuild the fire house. Time to rethink firefighting.
Confronting the Pain of Innovation http://s.hbr.org/MAj8AqHarvard Biz Review
If your organization doesn’t talk openly and frankly about its “innovation pain” as it pushes to create new value in new ways, you’re guaranteed to misdiagnose and misunderstand critical elements of your innovation culture. What would you think of a doctor who discussed everything about a disease and its treatment except the pain that they cause? 
Why Trends are for Suckers – http://su.pr/2n57bO – Greg Satell – #innovation #sm #technology #consumers #mgmt #trendsStefan Lindegaard
So don’t get taken in.  No matter how many people are talking about the hot trend, unless it is creating true value by solving real problems it will die out soon enough.
"Be reverent about the process and good ideas will emerge." RT @natwhitlock On Learning from Improv http://risd.cc/M5k9KNjohnmaeda
Here are seven tactics to help spur uninhibited expression. With any luck, it’ll be raining innovative ideas in no time.
Cause & Effect http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2012/07/cause-effect.htmlFred Wilson
Read Sci-Fi to be cutting-edge
Great, You’re Inspired: Now Begin The Nitty-Gritty Of Idea Implementation http://bit.ly/O9nOsB by @ChrisGrivas & @pucciogjCo.Lead
For successful implementation, involving others in the development process is a key part of managing the change. Such involvement not only provides you the skill sets needed to improve your idea, but also increases the sense of ownership of the solution. With that buy-in and increased expertise, your innovative solution stands more of chance of succeeding.

If you like these links, check out all the previous “Innovation Must Reads of the Week“. And don’t forget to

Innovation must reads of the week: How to think about the future

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10 Most Popular Innovation Posts of 2011

2011 is over. Lots of blog posts were written this year, lots of new and interesting friends were made, lots of ideas were crystallized and lots of value was created.

It was fun looking through the archives to find those posts everyone liked the most. It was fun to revisit them and re-read the comments you left. I still feel like it was just yesterday that I wrote them. Man time goes by very fast!

Here then are the 10 most popular posts of 2011 (+ 2 more) in no particular order.

Thank you for sticking around and I look forward to learning more from you in the next year.

Happy 2012 🙂

Innovation posts of the week: 10 innovation myths

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Reverse brainstorming: A better way to generate creative ideas


When we consider ‘how aha really happens‘ the traditional method we use for generating creative ideas, brainstorming, has flaws. Ask your friends, when do they have their best ideas? They will seldom answer, ‘during a brainstorming session’. Most likely it was in the shower, while driving and stuck in traffic or while daydreaming. The fact of the matter is ‘we can’t schedule creativity’ because we don’t know when that ‘aha’ will strike. Yet despite this basic human process we find that managers schedule a specific time for teams to come up with creative ideas.

This is not how creativity works in our brains. (Read page two of ‘How Aha really happens’):

“Over the past decade, neuroscientists have come a long way in figuring out how ideas form in the human mind. As it turns out, their findings contradict how most companies understand and organize innovation. But very few executives know that. They continue applying their conventional wisdom, unaware that science has overturned it.”

Another common belief is that having diverse people involved in a brainstorming session improves idea generation and selection. While this is true that doesn’t mean that the human element of ‘bias’ doesn’t exist. Group dynamics stifle innovation:

For example, in brainstorming sessions several people can quickly dominate a conversation often restricting the sharing of all potential ideas. In other cases, individuals may think less critically about a problem because they are happy to let others do the heavy lifting.  And, those people who lack confidence or internal credibility are more likely to practice self-censorship within peer groups. Finally, groups can be a breeding-ground for organizational barriers such as cultural norms and management bias that limit creativity and critical thinking.

Ok so now what?

Hybrid Model of Brainstorming

I think a better way of brainstorming is doing the opposite of typical brainstorming. For example, instead of brainstorming in groups to solve a particular problem at a particular time, setup a weekly meeting and let people bring in ideas on any subject that strike them at any time during the week. Interesting right?

Also in a traditional brainstorming session the group picks out the idea right there. Instead, don’t decide right away. Because if you brought an idea on any topic at all, the rest of the group might not have thought about the topic before. They’ll greet you with a blank stare in their face.

So instead of evaluating your idea the group will ask you to explain the idea as best you can, including all the elements that you combined in your head to come up with the idea. Then everyone goes off and think about individually and the discussion can continue over emails, telephone or in person. Eventually, a promising idea might emerge from the pack. At that time, it’s time for the ‘What Works Matrix‘ as an individual or group exercise.

Bottom line is creating the element of surprise at the beginning of idea generation. Because if you don’t create surprises you aren’t innovating.

Reverse brainstorming isn’t new

Now that you know how creativity works in the brain, the point is that our brains make connections continuously without us being aware of it. And because this is a natural human process, it’s key that we take advantage of in a whole week or month and not just in a two hour session.

Now, new research suggests that this hybrid model of brainstorming is more effective than the traditional one. While the research may be new, the practice is not. Firms such as IDEO have been doing this for years. They’re well known for including people from diverse backgrounds in all their meetings, essentially preparing a cocktail mix of ingredients to generate creative ideas.

This is how creativity works in the brain.

Obstacles don’t go away easily

Personally, I practice this model of brainstorming myself but have encountered problems. For example, if you’re the only one who brainstorms this way you’ll end up generating ideas that make no sense to others. They’ll think you’re nuts but at the same time they’ll give you the benefit of the doubt since you seem to have all the cool non-conventional ideas. Another problem is that people are used to brainstorming and selecting an idea right there. They don’t want to give an idea time to ‘simmer’ in their brains because of the bias for action. And also because they have more ‘important’ things to do in their routines and supposedly have no time to think. Blah!

So what to do?

Well you have to get people on board in the new way of brainstorming. My recommendation is ‘educate’ your team on how creativity works in our brains so they become aware of their own tendencies. This isn’t necessarily going to eliminate all obstacles but it’s an effective way to get people to believe, and as a plus they’ll feel smarter.

Thoughts? Do you practice a version of reverse brainstorming?

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