A variety of reasons play a role in the behavior of an individual within a group context. Through the lens of Psychology alone, factors like fear, rejection and self-esteem significantly stifle a person’s ability to contribute value. Corporate stigmas like bureaucracy, hierarchy and personal agendas dramatically alter the immediate and the long-term performance of a team, and the organization.
A study (PDF) conducted by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and INSTEAD Business School revealed that traditional group brainstorming sessions yield ideas that are both lower in quality and quantity. Allowing time for participants to individually generate ideas, then bring the ideas into the collaborative environment proved to be ideal.
Based on this research, I’ve developed a Dynamically Hybrid Group Brainstorming method. This approach allows for the ideal time and setting needed for optimal individual thinking by allowing members to approach the challenge individually in their own environment under terms that stimulate creative thought and ideas.
- The Brief – Write down the challenge or the objectives. Make sure the brief is concise, and general enough as not to imply any ideas or directions. Your challenge needs to be well thought out and clear, preferably written in an Invitational Stem format (“In What Ways Might We______“). Establish specific deadlines.
- The Participants – Select the participants. The facilitator will distribute and collect the ideas.
- The Exchange – Set up a way to anonymously exchange the ideas. It could be through email, online or paper. Setting up a online password-protected publishing platform using WordPress is a great location for the exchange to happen. Publish your brief as a post and allow commenting. Advise each participant to submit their ideas as comments using factitious names. And, make sure that all comments are held for moderation by checking the option “administrator must always approve the comment” (located in the Discussion settings). This way, participants will not see other participant’s ideas. Once all ideas have been submitted, the administrator will approve the comments, thus making the submissions viewable by the group.
1. Distribute Brief – Make the brief public to the participants. Instruct them to come up with ideas and submit the results by a specific deadline. Advise everyone not to spend too much time elaborating on each idea, simply note the idea or thought, and move on. Quantity is more important than quality at this point. Encourage the individuals to work in their desired environments (cafe, bookstore, etc.)
- You’re in business; stuff always comes up in the last minute
- For ideas, look at moving categories that other entrepreneurs are missing and focus on the niche
- Look deep into the data to look for opportunities
- Prototype quick, if it gains traction, make it big
- Entrepreneurs have some kind of level of A.D.D.
Source: David Cancel (@dcancel) of Performable, through Mixergy on 6/4/2010
- Have a vision of how things could be to a point where it’s only a matter of time before your vision is real.
- Talk about the things in the future as though they’ve already happened today.
- Entrepreneurs don’t see the future as possible, but rather as probable
- Ask “How are you going to change the world with this product?”
- Gauge your success by how many times people recognize what you do
- Sell a business and don’t look back. It’s a chapter
- Be comfortable selling and moving on
- Sometimes the timing is not right to start. Keep developing until the timing is right
- Don’t go of and build something unless you’re pretty sure you’ll solve a need
On Product Development:
- First Ask “Is this something I would buy?”
- Secondly “Will the technology support this idea?”
- Thirdly “Can you solve the problem at a price that’s acceptable to the market?”
- Every year, the cost of technology decreases by 35%, thus increasing the success of your business
- Be careful of the advice given to you at product development phase
- Simplify the decision process; both at customer acquisition, and at secured customer
- Address the issues, be responsive and jump in. Be like Nordstrum, take the blame even if not your own
- If you don’t know the answer, find someone who does, don’t give your customers BS
- When things break, the people need someone to hold your hand
- Do your market research first
- Talk to 100 people, write down their responses, and this will represent the bigger picture
David Friend of Carbonite, through Mixergy.com on 4/29/2011
- No one knows everything
- Entrepreneur love the idea of venture capital. Be careful what you ask for
- Learn to stay calm when the crap hits the fan
- The heart of a company is the entrepreneurial DNA it begins with
- Learn to love new and disruptive things
- Never, ever, ever give up
Source: David Hayden (Pana.ma) 5/31/2010 Mixergy.com
“I’m sorry this letter is so long, i didn’t have enough time to write a short one” ~ Samuel Clemens
Simplicity is not a lack of ability.
Simplicity shows a level of maturity novice creative thinkers do not have. It’s a lot of work to create something simple and beautiful. It takes time and rigor to build an idea or a business that is simple, yet full of potential.
Newton’s third law of motion states that “Every action is accompanied by an equal and opposite reaction. And, these forces always occur in pairs”. This simple law reveals that a reactive force cannot exist without an active counterpart.
An answer is a reaction of opposition, agreement or indifference to a previous action. The magnitude or quality of an answer largely depends on the question. The principles in the art of conversation instruct that desired results depend on the right answers, and the right answers depend on the right questions.
This truth is especially critical in creative thinking and ideation, where optimal results are desired.
A simple way to build a strong question is to phrase it around an Invitational Stem.
An Invitational Stem is the beginning part of a question that focuses on very specific phrasing. The focus on the phrasing is what creates a great question, thus resulting in a great answer. The key structure of the phrase is:
“In what ways might we…..”?
“In what ways might we increase productivity?” is a better question than “How do we increase productivity?”, or “Let’s increase productivity!”
The term “How?” is narrow-focused and asks for a specific. “Ways” is broad, open-ended and encourages creative thought.
Another great phrase alternative is:
“How might we…”?
“Might…” implies a greater level of curiosity, wonder and experimenting.
In ideation, quantity is a value as much as quality.
When you have an idea and make the idea public, one of three things will happen, and what you should learn from each one…
1. Everyone will ignore the idea – What could this mean… Your idea did not fill a need or a desire. The conditions may not be prime. Learn from this experience by studying current social and market trends, including basic human needs. Every idea must fill a core human need.
2. Someone will unsuccessfully copy the idea – In other words, they end up creating an inferior product and yours remains the better of the two, and gains greater traction. Learn from their mistakes. Other people’s mistakes often give us an insight into the strengths of our ideas, giving us even a greater opportunity to leverage on the strengths.
3. Someone will successfully copy the idea – They steal the idea and make it better. If you have no option for legal repercussion – learn from their success, your failure, and move on.
Takeaway: Learn from each scenario, whether or not your idea was a success.
A truly innovative idea must fill a specific human desire and need.
If an idea lacks value by not filling a need, it is only a novelty item and cannot be called an Innovation. An individual can be highly creative and find an innovative household solution, yet lack the capacity to market their idea as a real-world, useful solution – an Innovation.
Not enough time is spent developing ideas that are useful.
A few more thoughts, Jason Fried on Innovation
Innovation is the successful exploitation and execution of the opportunity of an idea within a business model.
Innovation – This is the space following an idea generation session (creative thinking, brainstorming, etc.). Innovation deals more with quality, evaluation and implementation. It’s an idea that has the proper resources supporting it and ideal market conditions ahead. Innovation is about moving a novel idea into an idea of value that fills a specific need. Identifying an innovative idea can be a creative process.
Idea Generation – The generation of ideas. This deals with quantity and novelty. This is what we typically refer to as Creativity.
Opportunity – An opportunity looks at and depends on resources (capital, staff, sales team, etc.), and conditions (consumer need & desire, idea value, competition, timing, etc.)
Bottom Line: Innovation is when a highly creative person becomes a successful entrepreneur.
The Culture of an organization is a set of beliefs, a way of thinking, a way of allowing, a way of doing, a way of respecting and honoring – it’s the fabric that holds and shapes forward momentum. But, Culture cannot exist in a vacuum. Culture cannot just happen and continue to happen without something constantly supplying and shaping it (The Vision). Also, Culture cannot exist without shaping and influencing something else (Strategy & Creative).
The Vision – Behind the operation of any organization (the daily routines, the returns, the balances, etc.) there is a purpose that pushed the business forward. This purpose never changes.
The Culture – The Culture is the Vision-shaped and Vision-influenced space in which the Strategy and Creative can thrive. It is the intangibles in the environment.
The Strategy – In order to fulfill the vision, methods need to be implemented (hire staff, lease an office, launch an advertising campaign)
The Creative – For the Strategy to be relevant, valuable and engaging, it needs to be packaged and implemented in creative ways (an impressive compensation package, an office with a view, a mobile and Facebook marketing campaign targeted at the 18-25 year old’s who live in southern California)
The Culture fosters the Strategy & Creative, and ensures that the Vision is property executed.
Takeaway – Alignment can be more effective and precise if the organization’s Culture is continually reassessed. The Vision can then have a greater level of impact on the way it’s implemented.