Tag Archives: collaboration

rethinking brainstorming

Business people drawing plan during meeting --- Image by © Blue Images/Corbis

Business people drawing plan during meeting — Image by © Blue Images/Corbis

As a paid facilitator, it might seem risky to openly admit to the pitfalls of group brainstorming. The reality is, however, that overused and improperly executed, brainstorming sessions can be a waste of time for everyone involved. Akin to their close cousin, the improperly focused or overly frequent staff meeting, where participants dread attendance and walk away feeling stripped of productive work time, group brainstorming sessions, which have long been lauded as a linchpin of the creative process, do have some real and well-documented drawbacks. These drawbacks are, unfortunately, too often ignored in order to protect the “feel good” communal nature of the process of collaboration and working together.

In a post a few weeks ago, I mentioned Susan Cain and the TED Talk in which she spoke about creativity and independent thought. The following HBR article furthers her points, making the argument that group brainstorming has been adopted as the gold standard for creativity, with no real empirical evidence to support it, and plenty of evidence highlighting its drawbacks. Social loafing, social anxiety, regression to the mean, and production blocking, are the four main explanations provided in this article for why brainstorming isn’t always the best approach, all of the time.

So, is the message that we should stop all brainstorming, suspend all meetings, and remain isolated in our offices from 9 to 5 producing independent work? Not at all. But, being aware of the potential drawbacks of group brainstorming, as well as having an understanding of the value of independent creativity and thought, can only help to ensure that the collaboration we do engage in is effective, rather than counterproductive, for both our organizations and our teams.

read the full article here

The Evil of Compromise

In recent years, the rules that historically defined and determined the way we think about and conduct business have been sorely tested. In many cases, the rules have been found to be seriously wanting. Many of the old rules on which we had relied in the past have shown themselves to be far from perfectly suited to the modern more turbulent and unpredictable world we live in today and will likely face for the foreseeable future. Other of the rules have simply been misguided, misconceived, misappropriated or misapplied. The concept of collaboration is just one of these. Collaboration is not only measured by the level of cooperativeness shown between people and groups but also by the level of assertiveness that individuals are prepared to show as they strive for optimal outcomes.

Canadians have a terrible tendency to believe we should be artificially kind and modestly self effacing when it comes to confronting harsh realities, long-held misconceptions and serious misalignments in our organizations and their people. We do so in the misguided belief the truth might cause pain and distress and that someone’s feelings might be hurt in the process. This perspective results in a fundamentally flawed and unhealthy preference amongst many Canadian business leaders for conflict avoidance, rather than determined conflict resolution. It is based on the ill-conceived premise that, somehow, we can create high-performance organizations and build high-performance leaders by placing the values of harmony and tranquility higher on the scale of importance than straight talk and truthfulness.