ZenStorming

Where Science Meets Muse

One Way of Unsticking Brainstorming Sessions

Posted by Plish on December 10, 2010

 
 
It’s the silence.  Nobody has anything to say and you can almost smell  burning neurons as people twist and twirl things in their heads while they try and be original…

Your brainstorming session has hit a brick wall…

How do you get out of it, or around it – or through it?

One way is to change the perspective of the participants.

What does that mean?

All problems/solutions exist in some type of context.   The problem-solvers/solution-finders usually inhabit the same space.  It makes sense, right?  A problem with customer service in a bank will be solved by employees at the bank; improving the design of a surgical device is done by clinicians, designers and engineers in the medical realm; figuring out the best meal for a family dinner is the responsibility of those in the household.

“The secret of all effective originality in advertising is not the creation of new and tricky words and pictures, but one of putting familiar words and pictures into new relationships.” – Leo Burnett, The advertising father of The Marlboro Man, Toucan Sam, the Jolly Green Giant, Morris the Cat, Tony the Tiger, and the Seven Up ‘spot’ among other things.

We can replace the word ‘advertising’ in the above quote with the word, ‘brainstorming sessions’ and it’s just as apropos.  It’s about finding new relationships and one of the easiest way to do this is for  idea generators to leave the space the problem inhabits. By doing this the solutions will necessarily come from a different direction and novel relationships will be made. 

For example, let’s say that a team is thinking up ways of improving customer service in banks.  Instead of looking at it from a banking perspective, pretend you are all hippies and ask, “In what ways would a hippie improve the experience  in a bank?”  Some of the resulting conversation might look something like this:

” Incense- we need patchouli  in the air,”

“Flowers, we’d need flowers, maaaaan..”

“What about music?  A guy playing an acoustic guitar would be sweet, man…waiting in line is such a drag…”

“Music is about righteousness and truth..where’s the righteousness and truth in here?”

“And love…I don’t feel love. “

“How can anyone feel anything with the colors in here? It’s all dark and heavy, and this chair, augh! It’s too heavy and cold- give me the floor (she says pouring out of her chair and on to the floor).”

There’s an entirely different perspective now about what constitutes a bank, what the lobby should look like, smell like, feel like.  Sure, maybe patchouli isn’t the way to go, but the brainstorming session has taken on an entirely new direction and ideas are flowing where only minutes ago there was  uncomfortable silence.

So, next time you’re stuck in a brainstorming session that’s stuck, try becoming someone else outside the context of the problem space.   You might be surprised at the results.

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One Response to “One Way of Unsticking Brainstorming Sessions”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Killer Ingenuity, Alltop Innovation. Alltop Innovation said: One Way of Unsticking Brainstorming Sessions http://bit.ly/gOAtmM [...]

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