The theory is nice. A collective whirlwind of ideas rushing around our heads...so many that we have to be quick and vigilant to catch them all. A torrent of innovation amongst a small group of energised and inspired folk that will help transform business.
There are two classic cliches used we often hear in brainstorms.
1 There are no bad ideas.
2 All the best ideas appear in the first five minutes
So if you turn this into a simple equation the answer to this should be:
NBI (No Bad Ideas) + F5M (All
The Best Ideas Happen in the First Five Minutes) +55 (Wasted Minutes) = 60 (minutes).
Given that brainstorms go on for at least one hour, have we been wasting each others time for years? The other 55 minutes could have been used for getting stuff done.
However, IF the statements are not true, then why do we use such phrases so often? Is it out of political correctness to not hurt someone’s feelings ("sorry Fred, but that idea was utterly rubbish") or because we cannot be bothered to go through a process to find fresh ideas?
Some ideas come when we are in the shower, or about to reach that moment in your sleep pattern. Sometimes they are triggered by memories or by unconnected moments in time.
However, ideas also grow from collaboration so some form of collective idea sharing is a fantastic way of generating powerful ideas and concepts.
So let’s be clear. There is such a thing as a BAD IDEA. Anyone who says otherwise is lying. What they really should say is that every idea can be the spur for another idea…fuel to the idea fire.
Perfect time for a brainstorm?
There is no equation, but my
view is nothing is achieved from people being forced to generate ideas against the
clock. If you really want to brainstorm, prepare the ground carefully.
Open Minds first and foremost. Clear heads and readiness to think the unthinkable. A walk in the park, game playing...anything to help fresh thoughts flow.
Open Structures next. Don't keep chasing the solution for your business problem during the brainstorm. Have moments where you contemplate other things. Free the mind then focus on the problem at hand again. All sorts of techniques exist to help at this stage. Some use walking on fire or yoga techniques. Others use 'team building exercises'. I always think that nothing beats a walk in a nearby park to clear the mind.
Which brings me to the last tip for a successful brainstorm. Find the right environment. Nothing inspiring comes from sitting in a white box with no natural light, yet many brainstorms take place in such sterile environments. This is not a 'blank canvas' for our imagination, as some would like us to believe, but merely laziness in the planning for the brainstorm.
In fact, whilst on that walk in the park, why not have the brainstorm there - weather permitting