As a software development team that moves quickly, Autodesk Labs does a lot of brainstorming. One of our developers, David Falck, came across an interesting article.
As all of us are always interesting in improving our processes, David shared the URL with the Autodesk Labs team. Through the article suggests that people can come up with more ideas individually, Senior Strategic Designer, Doug Look, was keen to point out:
The article presents a good perspective and one that is shared by some in the Doblin Group. Here’s my take. There is definitely something to be said about individuals coming up with ideas on their own and not having to deal with group dynamics and issues of group think. One of the ways to get around this aspect is to have individuals go off on their own, develop their ideas, and then come back to share with the greater group. In my opinion, protocols for the brainstorming sessions are really important - people who don’t do this regularly are not used to working in this way. That’s why it’s important to have someone who can facilitate and guide the process. That’s also why it’s important to establish ground rules like not judging the concepts as people present them, having a focus for the brainstorming, and having a system for evaluating, clustering, and doing something with the outcome of the brainstorming process.
The other misconception is that what you’re trying to achieve with brainstorming is generating the most possible ideas. The goal is NOT to come up with the most number of ideas, but rather to use the brainstorming process to consider many ideas and yet focus on a few really good ideas. Often the best ideas come from combinations of several ideas. I also believe that it’s important to have multi-disciplinary teams involved in the brainstorming so that multiple points of view, often conflicting, can inform the overall solution.
For me personally, I like to collect information, ponder it in solitude, and then enter a group situation where I can act as an informed participant. When we get together to formulate ideas where I have not yet done my homework, I am less effective. On the other hand, if I were expected to do everything without collaboration, although I might be more efficient and get more done, how do I know I am doing what's best? I might be conveniently working on the wrong thing. So there are benefits to working alone and in groups.
What have your experiences been with brainstorming? How does your company innovate? Please let us know what you think: [email protected]. Or schedule a meeting, discuss it, and then send in your top 3 experiences. :-) Thinking aloud is alive in the lab.