There are many ways to improve your employees’ productivity and creativity. A usual method to do this is brainstorming, but it has many downsides, like loudmouths and “group thinking”. There’s a new idea that’s solved these problems: brainwriting.
This term was introduced by the professor and researcher Leigh Thompson, who explained the process in this video. The main goal was to optimize an already used method to come up with new ideas in businesses: brainstorming. The professor recognized many problems in it and worked to solve them.
Problems with brainstorming
Contrary to popular belief, brainstorming doesn’t increase a group’s ability to come up with more and creative ideas. People have this ideal situation in their heads, where all employees will think about something, which will then be complemented and constructively criticized by others. This way, the result would be many interesting and original ideas. Sadly, it isn’t true.
In every group of people, there are a few of them with a more dominant stance, who raise their voice over the others: loudmouths. This will get in the way of receiving many ideas from different people, as the majority may end up being silenced or ignored. It can happen because of the aggressive postures of others, or because they don’t feel like they have a place or reason to contribute.
There’s another element that comes up when brainstorming that’s called “groupthink”. This expression was coined by psychologist Irving Janis to explain a phenomenon that takes place when many people are discussing ideas. His research shows that a group can be led to incorrect solutions by mistaken leaders. In other words, the majority’s thinking abilities can be altered by the ones from a minority, even if their reasoning is false or not as creative.
Solutions with brainwriting
The process of brainwriting is essentially the same, but with another method and better results. Everyone is told to write down their ideas, as many as they can. Afterward, everything will be read out and discussed.
Not only will everyone get a chance to express their ideas, but these will be 100% their own, without inputs from the others in the process of idea-generation, which will solve the problems of brainstorming. Additionally, separating this first phase from the following one, the discussion phase, will increase the number of creative ideas and overall productivity levels. This method can also work when telecommuting, although you should consider its pros and cons.
You’ll be bringing the best of individuals and groups to the table, instead of mixing both qualities. This means that people will bring original ideas to the table, which will then be discussed and sorted out by everyone, together.
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