Moments ago I turned the page on ChiChi Madu’s article: “How to Brainstorm: Group Free-For-Alls Can Stifle Creativity” in the February issue of Psychology Today. The timing is brilliant because I am in the midst of brainstorming a name and tagline for a website set to launch later this spring. This is proving a near impossible task and the next step is to request input from friends and colleagues.
Instead of casting another e-mail out into the ether as I’d planned to do later this afternoon, I have decided to follow a group technique called “brainwriting,” detailed in Madu’s piece and coined by Peter Heslin, business professor at Southern Methodist University.
According to Heslin, brainwriting “can generate new ideas with higher quality and more efficiency than a typical free-for-all.” A typical session would go a little like this:
1. Write. Everyone sits at a table with a different-color pen and a piece of paper. Each person writes an idea on the paper and passes it to the right. “Using different-color pens can be stressful, but more people participate and everyone is accountable for their ideas,” Heslin says.
2. React. Read the idea or ideas on the slip you received, then add your own idea, perhaps feeding off the others. If you can’t think of something, just pass it along. This keeps the creative juices flowing.
3. Review. When a slip has about five ideas, retire it to the center of the table. When the slips are done, everyone analyzes them. “After the ideas are out there, there’s a need for systematic consideration of each idea,” he says.
4. Select. Everyone makes a list of their favorite ideas. And the most popular are recorded. “When the group is committed, they are usually surprised at what they achieve.”
I’d much rather gather the best and brightest in my life into my living room for a ‘brainwriting’ session than fritter away more time online. Coffee, conversation and a completed project? Count me in.
What do you think of ‘brainwriting’? Would this new style of brainstorming serve you in any of your current projects?