[OSList] brainstorming in the New Yorker Magazine

Barbara B. Bunker bbunker at buffalo.edu
Sun Feb 5 06:37:58 PST 2012

There is a very useful recent article (Jan 30 p 22ff) in the New Yorker about the
research on brainstorming and other forms of group decision making.  Apparently,
people working alone or people working in groups that debate and critique each
other are a lot more productive of new ideas than people in brainstorming groups
(who are mandated not to evaluate each others ideas)!
  He (John Lehrer) goes on to describe a study by Brian Uzzi, a sociologist at
Northwestern U, who is interested in what makes a successful team.  He studied
how Broadway shows are created and found that teams that have some already
standing relationships but some new folks in the mix were more successful than
groups of old friends. (Overtones of Open Space??)
   He concludes by describing how Steve Jobs planned architecture to create
"chance encounters" at work because he believed they give rise to more creative
ideas (Harrison's coffee breaks?).
   It's a fun read for those of you who have access.  B3

Barbara B. Bunker Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology Emerita
The University at Buffalo
117 Highland Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14222

On Sat 02/04/12 12:01 PM , Kas Neteler kasneteler at gmail.com sent:
> Dear Kerry, 
> I'm not sure if this is a start of a thread or if I am missing
> some critical info. I want to offer you a different perspective.  
> I have seen and heard of too many badly designed brainstorm sessions
> that end just as you have described: a group of people not ready to
> take responsibility for what they "created". What I often see is that
> the process butchered -- leaving the group without the proper tools to
> create and implement strategy. Crucial steps are missing to take a
> group from brainstorming to strategy to implementation. I suggest you
> are missing valuable steps between brainstorming and voting. 
> Before you bring brainstorming out of the tool kit -- ask, why are we
> doing this? If the WHY is that you need divergent thinking then we can
> move forward. This is similar to selecting Open Space as a technique
> -- first ask WHY are we doing this and if its the proper fit move
> forward.
> WHAT is brainstorming but idea generation of raw data around a
> specific goal. That's it... it's opening a space, stating your
> goal, and allowing a flood of ideas to come forward (no one should
> feel they need to take responsibility at this time -- you want to
> avoid barriers to innovation). It's best accomplished with a
> diverse set of stakeholders. Like OS where the right people will
> attend (and invitation is key!!!) -- this takes similar effort to make
> sure the different perspectives of the group are in the room AND if
> not, that role playing helps to bring those ideas forward.
> I will hold back on describing actual brainstorm techniques -- this is
> something I can seriously geek out over (feel free to contact me
> directly) and really depends on creating the appropriate method for
> each group. 
> No matter what version of brainstorming happens the end result is raw
> data. The next steps are super critical: stepping back looking for
> emerging patterns and organizing to see what the picture is once you
> take into account the group's resources vs. the impact. Taking
> time to reflect and synthesize -- going back if anything is missing.
> Like OS -- finding those in the room who are passionate enough to
> champion ideas. Now you have enough info to sketch out the group's
> strategy and formulate an actionable plan. 
> I am drawn to both brainstorming and Open Space for their similar
> qualities: getting folks together to be free to discuss, ask
> questions, be heard, listen intently, reflect ... and ultimately come
> away with a sense of connection to the project at hand and more
> importantly each other. 
> Best of luck with your endeavors. 
> --> Kas
> Emeryville, USA
> On Thu, Feb 2, 2012 at 4:03 PM, Kerry Napuk  wrote:
> Hi Harrison
> For me brainstorming is a waste of time, because nobody takes
> ownership or responsibility for what they blurt out.  In Open Futures
> we used a giant mind map and then voted on priorities of items
> proposed by up to 60 participants.
> Open Space runs on passion and responsibility, two vital things I
> would never accuse brainstormers of.
> Cheers
> Kerry
> Edinburgh
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> -- 
> Kas Neteler
> MBA, Sustainable Enterprise
> I'm cycling from SF to LA June 3 - 9, 2012 to help end AIDS. Click
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