Jason Hiner summarizes five ways that companies can kill innovation. The first two are structural. The last two are cultural. But the one in the middle is conceptual. The culprit is in an inability to brainstorm, competently. Who knew it could be be so hard? Ask your self three smaller questions:
1) What percentage of your colleagues use the words: ‘let’s brainstorm about…’ ?
2) what percentage of that group know, can recite the 4 rules of brainstorming, as defined by osborne?
3) What percentage of the group in number two, know the importance of building on the wild ideas of others?
back to Hiner’s diagnosis:
“…The basic rules of brainstorming have been around since Alex Osborne coined the phrase in 1939, as part of his method for creative problem solving. However, it’s amazing how many organizations attempt to engage in brainstorming without following the rules and end up killing some of the best ideas because of it. Osborne once said, “It is easier to tone down a wild idea than to think up a new one.” In that spirit, true brainstorming should be always be a negativity-free process that encourages people to throw out their wildest ideas without fear of them being quickly shot down or ridiculed. Some of the craziest ideas could morph into something amazingly useful. You can find lots of variations of the brainstorming rules on the web, but my favorite are the ones that the Walt Disney World “imagineers” use:
Rule 1 – There is no such thing as a bad idea. We never know how one idea (however far-fetched) might lead into another one that is exactly right.
Rule 2 – We don’t talk yet about why not. There will be plenty of time for realities later, so we don’t want them to get in the way of the good ideas now.
Rule 3 – Nothing should stifle the flow of ideas. Not buts or can’ts or other “stopping” words. We want to hear words such as “and,” “or,” and “what if?”
Rule 4 – There is no such thing as a bad idea. (We take that one very seriously.)…”