Unstructured, abstract brainstorming is not my thing. I absolutely cannot do it well. I can't do it without taking the big broad question and breaking it down to a smaller components and then looking for one that I could relate to. In essence, I needed to find something to hitch my brainstorming star on to. I have often left brainstorming meetings feeling a bit, well, deficient.
So, when I read the recent issue of Harvard Business Review, December 2007 and came across the article, Breakthrough Thinking from Inside the Box, I wanted to stand up and shout, "YES!" The authors articulate the problems inherent in wild, wide-open brainstorming sessions. They propose jumping back into the box and assert that breakthrough thinking occurs when the right questions are asked. Do you want to know how to best orchestrate a semi-structured brainstorming process that mirrors how people think? You can start by:
Bounding the range of acceptable ideas, then selecting and tailoring the questions accordingly;
Selecting participants who can produce original insights; and
Ensuring everyone is fully engaged.
Permission to reenter the box? Granted. I welcome the change.