One of the most compelling questions that an innovation facilitator brings to the table is “are we asking and finding solutions to the right problem?”
I am convinced that over the past few years, the myriad articles on brainstorming haven’t asked that vital question. Most of the research is about whether brainstorming in a group is more or less effective than individual brainstorming.
But it isn’t a very good question.
Here’s why. Most people correctly cite Alex Osborn’s classic 1953 book Applied Imagination as the primer on brainstorming. But I don’t think they’ve actually read it.
On page 141 (3rd Revised Edition) Osborn writes, “At this point it might be well to clear up a misconception about group brainstorming. Some have erroneously thought that this collaborative effort is meant to replace individual effort. The fact is that group brainstorming is recommended as solely as a supplement to individual ideation. (The italics are Osborn’s).
Then, on page 152, he continues, “In the early 50’s brainstorming became too popular too fast, with the result that it was frequently misused. Too many people jumped on it as a panacea, then turned against it when no miracles resulted. Likewise, too many have erroneously regarded group brainstorming as a complete problem-solving process, whereas it is only one of several phases of idea-finding; and idea-finding is only one of the several phases of creative problem-solving.”
Essentially, Osborn is emphatic about a key point -- group brainstorming is a supplement to individual brainstorming not a replacement. So nearly six decades later, people are still asking which is more effective – when the answer was there all the time.
They are looking for a simple binary answer: Yes or No. Osborn was talking about something more profound – he was saying not this or that, but “and.”
So why a new business model? My colleagues Alexander Osterwalder and Saul Kaplan of the Business Innovation Factory have done an incredible job of defining and promoting the idea of business model innovation.
This is their definition; a business model describes the rationale of how an organization creates, delivers, and captures value.”
I'm going to adapt this definition to say "how the process of an organization creates, delivers and captures valjue."
Brainstorming, unfortunately, is a victim of its own ubiquity and poorly understood and facilitated sessions. So this process as generally practiced it is not creating or delivering value for most organizations for a variety of reasons.
I think that Mitchell Rigie and Keith Harmeyer have done a masterful job of reframing brainstorming for their company, SmartStorming. Companies like SeriouslyCreative, SolutionPeople, IDEO, Before & After and my own company, Inotivity, integrate brainstorming as part of a more dynamic, more productive process of ideation.
Collectively, we have begun to change brainstorming business model, but like the better mousetrap, it hasn’t reached the collective consciousness of the public.
So we not only need to continue to reinvent the business model, we need to share the ideas more effectively. We need to prove to businesses how valuable and incredibly productive group ideation can be when combined with individual creativity.
If this is a movement, then this is the beginning of a change manifesto. Stay tuned for more.
And thank you Alex Osborn for the inspiration and the foresight.
Here's a link to Saul's new book: http://amzn.to/RW59ag
Here's a link to Alexander's best seller: http://amzn.to/RW5tpu
Here's a link to Inotivity site: http://inotivity.com
Thanks to Paul Williams of Idea Sandbox for the graphic idea.
Response: Gatorade Coupons[...]Creativity Central - Creativity Central - Why Brainstorming Needs Business Model Innovation[...]