The 7 Deadly Sins of Brainstorming

Posted by Ed - 03/09/13 at 10:09 pm

Brainstorming is like a hammer everyone has seen one but few actually use it to it’s fullest potential. It is usually done on the fly and the results are interesting but nothing seems to change after a session. Why? Because one or more of the 7 deadly sins of brainstorming have been committed.

Here’s the list:
1. Taking it lightly just for fun.
Cure: Commit to doing something about the results. Usually that means grouping the results into categories, prioritizing them to find the top category that will most likely to make a difference. After that level 2 Brainstorming is applied to that top category where ideas are generated on the best way to achieve results in the top category.
2. Not following the original brainstorming rules.
It is throwing a hand grenade into a room of excited people to achieve an idea vacuum.
Cure: Follow the original rules of brainstorming as a minimum first used by Alex Osborn in 1941, an advertising guy, to encourage creativity. (a) No criticism or discussion of ideas during the ideation session. (b) Go for large quantities of ideas and then push just for a few more the better ones come when squeezed out. and (c) Build new ideas from earlier ones. (d) Encourage wild and exaggerated ideas.
3. Not have enough ideas.
Cure: Set expectations at the start at least three to five per person to start. Pick a number and work for it. Similar ideas can be grouped later. Ideas should be short a noun and a verb just enough to be meaningful.
4. Quitting too soon.
Cure: Same as three. Done right you can have enough new ideas for a year. In a business situation you can quit the session when action items has been assigned.
5. Not respecting the power of the mastermind’s energy and depth.
Cure: Just assume that each person bring an average five years of intensely valuable experience. Ten people would have an average of 50 years of experience that they bring to the table. Treat the results of all their ideas as a treasure account. When the most promising ideas are worked on then brainstorm the next level. This can continue until all the promising ideas are explored.
6. Starting Cold without a warm up.
Cure: Usually this can be done at the beginning so attendees can get a different look at person. In an extremely busy organization I have used let’s go around the room and each person tell us what they like to do for fun if they had free time to do it?
7. Not expecting to have fun.
Cure: Make it fun. Have each person write down as many noun and verb ideas (One Post It(TM) note for each idea. When the ideas started to slow down I’ve make it into a game show; one idea from the left side two from the right; do we have another on the left side now we have a tie….” just an idea that worked for me.

Please comment to get more on this topic
I had planned to share stories from real experiences but I need you to comment on this post and tell me what you liked and what you want to see more of. If you attended the live session on this topic for the on Wednesday Sept 4th please let us know by your comment and what you got out of the session? This is a post generated for you and the readers to share comments.
Ref. Book Link:Applied Imagination by Alex Osborn

2 Responses to “The 7 Deadly Sins of Brainstorming”

  1. Thomas says:
    September 4th, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    I have been involved in mastermind teams and I find your list of deadly sins to be right on.

  2. Ed says:
    September 4th, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    Thanks Thomas for the confirmation.

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