BRAINSTORMING: GROUP PROBLEM-SOLVING FOR EVERYONE
By NICHOLAS C. HILL (FIC FInstLM)
There are many benefits to brainstorming, and each of these deserves due notice.
First and foremost, brainstorming allows the generation of expansive and exhaustive ideas that. Even if the problem or issue which an organisation is trying to address has existed since time immemorial, the session can still foster a kind of collective spontaneity and creativity. This is often enough to ensure that the group involved in the process is able to see an otherwise old concern from an array of new and dynamic perspectives.
We conduct brainstorming sessions in our in-house training as well as on our many public management and leadership skills courses London, Birmingham, Exeter, Manchester, Newcastle and Glasgow.
Brainstorming sessions tap the varied experiences of the individuals taking part in the activity thus permitting the creation of vast possibilities. Also, this method of idea gathering and selection inspires team building, and influences team members to be personally engaged with, or invested in, an organisation’s decision making process, given their voices and opinions were regarded with ample respect and importance in the first place.
The development of the brainstorming method is widely credited to an advertising executive from Madison Avenue named Alex Osborn. Back in the 1950s, Alex Osborn conceived of the brainstorming process, as a supplementary tool for, or a fitting alternative to, the more conventional group problem-solving strategy. Since then, a number of business mavens and experts have carefully examined the techniques concocted by Alex Osborn, for the purpose of further developing an altogether reliable idea generation process.
Brainstorming should not be confused with group problem-solving method. Whereas the former seeks out the participants’ views and opinions without favouritism, bias or prejudice, the latter mostly suffers from unequal or lopsided input from participants. This observation, in relation to group problem-solving method’s weakness in terms of eliciting collective participation, is not entirely triggered by incompetence or disinterest of those who seem not as eager to provide their personal inputs. It happens when the process is too formal, so that while some individuals, who tend to be more vocal and confident, are able to share their views with ease, those who are easily intimidated by such formalities are unintentionally muted by their more enthusiastic colleagues. In brainstorming sessions though, the onset of this scenario is oftentimes hindered because all the participants are encouraged to contribute without the traps of intimidation.
Brainstorming, at its core, takes cue from the traditional group problem-solving method. Nevertheless, the former restructures the latter in a way that is more liberal and devoid of figures of command or authority. This way, participants are on an equal footing, all tackling a unified goal; to generate ideas. The ideas may at first seem too far-fetched or at times even ludicrous. But such is the exact intent of the process – to come up with the zaniest of concepts and ideally, at the end of a day, agree on a solution that is not merely practical and logical, but more importantly, inspired and novel.
This article is simply to whet your appetite for brainstorming. For a detailed strategy and to develop your skills, please enquire about our leadership and management skills courses Birmingham, Exeter, Manchester, London, Newcastle and Glasgow. Brainstorming, although normally done in groups, can also be accomplished individually. Both approaches have their pros and cons and it is a team leader’s responsibility to discern which approach can best cater to a specific problem-solving goal or objective.
Nicholas C. Hill is Managing Director and Principal Trainer for The Hill Consultancy Ltd, London, specialising in UK-wide public training courses in leadership and management development. Become a highly productive manager and influential leader today. Claim £100 off the list price on any two-day course. Promotional code: PASSION0213. Visit the website or call now to find out more or request a FREE consultation. T: 020 7993 9955 W: www.nicholashill.com