Build a Better Brainstorm: How to capture all the ideas in the room

In recent years, typical business brainstorming has gotten a bad rap for a lot of reasons: It is ineffective. It is dominated by loudmouths. Most people think better alone. So why is brainstorming still widely utilized by businesses intent on idea generation? The answer has more to do with the inherent biases and shortcomings we do not see in brainstorming than what is observable in the process.

“Most people go through brainstorming sessions in which only half of the ideas that exist in the room get expressed,” says Loran Nordgren, an associate professor of management and organizations at the Kellogg School. “Very often the best ones don’t get expressed, and participants walk out feeling like it was a productive meeting.”

With that in mind, Nordgren recently designed the mobile app Candor as a handy way to generate, capture, organize, and evaluate ideas while bypassing some of the main obstacles posed by traditional brainstorming. With Candor, ideas are generated in advance and then discussed and evaluated in person—which increases the number and diversity of ideas that are brought to the table.

This process often feels counterintuitive or unnatural for people raised on group idea generation, but Nordgren is trying to overcome their resistance by showing them how effective the process can be.

“You want to let people think before they see what other people have thought about, and then you give them an opportunity to explain what they came up with,” Nordgren says.

“Once ideas are collected, there are really a lot of options. You can project all the ideas on the board via the website to see what everyone has done. You see it all simultaneously. It is a tool that makes a helpful practice easier to do.”

Anchors Away

Just why do all these great ideas never see the light of day via traditional brainstorming sessions? The answer lies in the structure of brainstorming itself.

Because we do not want to be rude, cut each other off, or all talk at once when presenting and discussing ideas out loud, we take turns. “There are a host of problems with that,” Nordgren says. But two main factors act to constrict idea flow in this scenario: anchoring and conformity pressure.

With anchoring, someone presents an idea and subsequent ideas gravitate in relation to the first. This reduces the diversity of the brainstorm and means that ideas presented early in the conversation have a disproportionate influence on the subsequent discussion. So our tendency to gravitate toward a good idea might just act to crowd out even better, more innovative ideas.

Conformity pressure is predicated on how we anticipate our ideas being received and how much mental energy we spend thinking about that reception. “Very quickly, we begin to get a sense of what ideas seem appropriate or not,” Nordgren says. “If the first person says ‘let’s do charitable work,’ and my idea was ‘let’s have a party,’ I may not share my idea, because I would take the first idea as a cue that my idea isn’t appropriate.”

Invisible Issues

Worst of all, neither of these factors is readily apparent in most brainstorms. What feels to everyone involved like a freewheeling session—“We captured new sales pitches for next quarter!”—may in fact be hamstrung by a combination of ideas that others then build upon and a subconscious pressure to conform to the ideas presented, no matter how unoriginal—“Wait, aren’t these pitches the same as last quarter’s?”

By allowing participants to separate generation from evaluation, Candor eliminates anchoring and conformity pressure. There is nothing to drag subsequent ideas toward the immediate orbit of what has been said and nothing to shy away from for fear of saying the wrong thing.

Being able to sort the captured ideas makes it easy to see which are gravitating into groups—and which are the gems. There is also nowhere for brainstormers to hide. “When you get people into groups, there is a lot of social loafing,” Nordgren says. “But when you ask them to do this individually, you’re maximizing the brain power of each person.”

Functionality Matters

Perhaps fittingly, it takes some collective intelligence to design an app that takes advantage of collective intelligence. In response to feedback from early users, a series of video introductions has been added to Candor’s website. Additionally, several features of the app have been tweaked in an updated release to give users more choice in when and how to share brainstorms.

“The ability to go live and easily share all the aggregated information with everyone else, and not just through the creator of the discussion, is a big advance,” Nordgren says.

Other tweaks made the app simpler for inexperienced users. “In version 1.0, we gave people the option of selecting the color of their idea cards,” Nordgren says. “This was kind of a throw-away decision that one of the app designers suggested as a little customization.”

“A lot of people—and understandably so—imagine that color choice is communicating something. We didn’t mean that at all, but users have invented theories about what the colors mean,” Nordgren says. “It has become clear that each element has to be super-clearly articulated to everyone, because when you’re generating ideas, all these things have an evaluative content.”

It may seem impossible to account for the myriad ways an app and its design elements function, but Candor itself may prove to be the most effective tool for improving future versions of Candor. One needs to look no further than the app’s name, which is the crowdsourced result of an idea-generation session using the app.

Artwork by Yevgenia Nayberg

Go to Source

Tags: , ,

Is Nurturing Creativity a Luxury or a Necessity for Schools in Developing Nations?

After attending the World Innovation Summit for Education, I’m convinced that creativity matters – particularly as it applies to teaching and learning in developing nations.

The central theme of this year’s summit was “Imagine-Create-Learn: Creativity at the Heart of Education.” Creativity is the process by which we bring together seemingly unrelated ideas to make something – almost anything – new. Creativity is fueled by the passion to seek out meaning from the things we do.

For example, if schoolwork is perceived to be overly abstract and have very little real-world meaning, then students will have very little motivation to learn. This is why creativity plays a central role in both the UNESCO ICT Competency Framework for Teachers and the International Society for Technology in Education Teacher Standards and Student Standards for learning, teaching, and leading in the digital age. Read more

Tags: , , ,

Team Proactivity as a Linking Mechanism between Team Creative Efficacy, Transformational Leadership, and Risk-Taking Norms and Team Creative Performance


Despite the growing body of research on creativity in team contexts, very few attempts have been made to explore the team-level antecedents and the mediating processes of team creative performance on the basis of a theoretical framework. To address this gap, drawing on Paulus and Dzindolet’s (2008) group creativity model, this study proposed team creative efficacy, transformational leadership, and risk-taking norms as antecedents of team creative performance and team proactivity as an intervening mechanism between these relationships. The results of team-level regression analyses conducted on the leaders and members of 103 Korean work teams showed that team creative efficacy and risk-taking norms were positively associated with team creative performance. Furthermore, the relationships between team creative efficacy and team creative performance and between risk-taking norms and team creative performance were mediated by team proactivity. These findings offer new insights regarding the antecedents and the mediator of creative performance in team contexts and important implications for theory and practice.

Go to Source

No tags for this post.

Linear and Nonlinear Thinking: A Multidimensional Model and Measure


Building upon previously developed and more general dual-process models, this paper provides empirical support for a multidimensional thinking style construct comprised of linear thinking and multiple dimensions of nonlinear thinking. A self-report assessment instrument (Linear/Nonlinear Thinking Style Profile; LNTSP) is presented and preliminarily tested across three studies with an overall sample of 778 respondents comprised of business students and managers. The results indicate that nonlinear thinking style consists of seven distinct, yet interrelated dimensions: intuition, creativity, values, imagination, flexibility, insights, and emotions. Convergent and discriminant validity estimates vis-à-vis a multidimensional creative thinking index and an emotional intelligence measure provide support for further development of the instrument. The implications of these results for future managerial cognition research are discussed, as well as potential practical applications of the LNTSP for management education and business practice.

Go to Source

Tags: , , ,

Differential Effects of Personality Traits and Environmental Predictors on Reproductive and Creative Imagination


The purpose of this study was twofold: (1) to analyze the effects of both personality and environmental variables on the imagination of video/film major university students; and (2) to test the mediator effect resulting from the variable of social climate. The results of this study supported both indicators of imaginative capabilities and environmental influences. The hypothesis of the study—that the variable of social climate mediates the effects of personality/environmental predictors and both types of imagination—was partially supported. The structural model also showed that most personality traits have direct effects on imagination, whereas most environmental predictors have indirect effects. Practical applications of this study were suggested, future inquiries were discussed, and limitations were acknowledged.

Go to Source

Tags: ,

“We’ve Got Creative Differences”: The Effects of Task Conflict and Participative Safety on Team Creative Performance


Although both participative safety and team task conflict are widely thought to be related to team creative performance, the nature of this relationship is still not well understood, and prior studies have frequently yielded conflicting results. This study examines the ambiguity in the extant literature and proposes that both constructs must exist in tandem. Through a study of 55 design teams, we have identified a significant interaction between task conflict and participative safety. Results suggest that both participative safety and task conflict must exist in tandem to spur team creativity, and that team creative performance must be examined at the facet level, instead of simply as a single construct. In addition, supplemental analyses suggest that teams low on participative safety and task conflict are likely able to generate more original solutions for creative tasks due to the presence of an independent, disagreeable creative member. Implications for future research and practice are further discussed.

Go to Source

Tags: , ,

Opening up Openness to Experience: A Four-Factor Model and Relations to Creative Achievement in the Arts and Sciences


Openness to experience is the broadest personality domain of the Big Five, including a mix of traits relating to intellectual curiosity, intellectual interests, perceived intelligence, imagination, creativity, artistic and aesthetic interests, emotional and fantasy richness, and unconventionality. Likewise, creative achievement is a broad construct, comprising creativity across the arts and sciences. The aim of this study was to clarify the relationship between openness to experience and creative achievement. Toward this aim, I factor analyzed a battery of tests of cognitive ability, working memory, Intellect, Openness, affect, and intuition among a sample of English Sixth Form students (N = 146). Four factors were revealed: explicit cognitive ability, intellectual engagement, affective engagement, and aesthetic engagement. In line with dual-process theory, each of these four factors showed differential relations with personality, impulsivity, and creative achievement. Affective engagement and aesthetic engagement were associated with creative achievement in the arts, whereas explicit cognitive ability and intellectual engagement were associated with creative achievement in the sciences. The results suggest that the Intellectual and Openness aspects of the broader openness to experience personality domain are related to different modes of information processing and predict different forms of creative achievement.

Go to Source

Tags: , , ,