Start Brainstorming Process Individually, Then Move to Group Process



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Alex Dail, Management Consultant, Alex Dail
When people work as a group to brainstorm it limits novelty to start as a group to early. People censor what they believe a group will accept (Groupthink).
Research has found that brainstorming ought to begin with the individual where a person has sometime to relax.
Then, after a couple of days, come together as a group and then use the private brainstorming ideas as springboards for group ideas.

 
  Start Brainstorming Activity Individually
Jagadeesh, India
If you don't start brainstorming individually this is also likely to infuse cognitive bias, influence from others, and is also likely to lead to preconceived opinions.
 
  Start Brainstorming Process Individually
John Thacker, UK
Very much agree. We have been losing the power of individual thinking and have failed to encourage people to learn personal persistence in this area.
Starting with group brainstorming results in the views of a minority dominating and lends itself to network bias.
A point strongly emphasised by Susan Cain in her great book 'Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking.'
Thanks, Alex.
 
  Political and Social Anxiety Inhibiting Group Brainstorming
Ivan Kohlinsky, UK
To overcome the group acceptance concerns the first few rounds of brainstorming.
I believe brainstorming should be by people writing their ideas on a post it note and individually sticking them on the rear of a trestle board, or something similar, where a large area can be accessible from the back.
The leaders can post first so that the first person is not anxious but to me brainstorming is best when it avalanches - when one person's slightly 'off the wall' idea triggers ideas in other people.
Brainstorming alone / individually just doesn't do this, but having a few thoughts before the meeting is fine and keeping the privacy of who puts up which idea for political and social reasons is fine when one starts the process.
 
  Establishing Trust in Brainstorming Process Means Starting Individually
Goran Stille, Sweden
I think the key issue in an effective brainstorming process is TRUST. Both inner trust and outer trust (of the rest of the group) and of the leader of the group:
A. Inner trust: learn from psychotherapy group experience by taking these steps in this order:
A1. Write/draw you own expression for the new thing,
A2. Talk to one other person in private,
A3. Express yourself and your idea to the rest of the group.
B. Outer trust: groups often require at least 3-4 sessions of 2 hours each to gain trust with each other voices, way to express themselves. Usually with a couple of weeks in between sessions.
C. Leader trust: how does the leader of the sessions "use" what comes up?
 
  Dynamics of the Individual and Group Processes
Damodaram Kuppuswami, India
In my view starting at individual level is the foundation for the effectiveness of the group process. It contributes to creating willingness to be open for others' feedback.
Though at the beginning, the individual process precedes the group process, with time these two processes could become simultaneous and dynamic.
Some of the collective processes might demand dealing at individual level as a follow up.
 
  Start Brainstorming Process Individually, but Keep Open Mind
ashok mhatre, India
There is merit in brainstorming on preconceived individual ideas.
However effective and creative brainstorming can happen only when all members of the group participate with fully open mind. Then only one bright idea in the group could be spotted and converted into a big fire through a process of symbiosis.
Only open minds only can see that one match stick can be used to first light a candle and then a big fire.
 
  Starting with Individual Brainstorming Activates Unconscious
zahra gheidar, Iran
Individual brainstorming provides an opportunity for the unconscious mind. When someone does this before starting a group brainstorming, his unconscious is activated.
That is a vital step for creativity.
 
  Personality of Individuals (intro/extrovert) Could also Affect this Topic
Juan Perez Eras, Mexico
It's important to remember that personality of individuals could affect results of brainstorming. It's possible that group members who are introvert could have good ideas but they're not able to express them as they want.
On the other hand extravert / outgoing members could monopolize the process.
The group should be directed by a person that could obtain ideas from both type of individuals.
 
  Facilitator also Influences the Need to Start with Individual Brainstorming
jose pontones, Mexico
The key I believe is to have a facilitator who can at the outset, stimulate individual open participation and help build on all ideas.
As a final step, a cool down period to screen and prioritize sensible ideas.
 
  Private Time to Reflect... Essential to Contributing to Group
KATHRYN STEINER, MBA, USA
This is a great discussion. With many outstanding contributions... I've personally realized that time alone is essential to rejuvenating the mind, and reflecting is an important part of understanding people and situations.
It is OK to say I need time to consider this... Whether it is a project, or idea, that requires a response. It has been pointed out by contributors to this discussion that everyone is different, and personalty and communication differences should be considered.
There are those who prefer to constantly be around others, and may find themselves energized by constant contact. Ideally, for me, I'm not always quick to think on my feet, and may come up with a great solution to contribute after the initial session.
Perhaps as indicated by contributors to this discussion, having several brainstorming sessions (after individual preparation) is ideal, a preliminary one, and then as the ideas are sifted through, one or two more to solidify. To establish trust which is essential.
 
  Think First, then Contribute in Group
Joyce Msolla, Tanzania
Individual brainstorming allows for better understanding the problem and composing an opinion instead of just jumping into contributing something that can turn out to be embarrasing.
 
  Prepare Brainstorming Process Individually
Muhammad Nawaz Khan, Pakistan
Individual preparation has a different way of feeling and expression which is a key to come with new ideas. Therefore, individual thinking leads to a creativity.
The group process that follows as the 2nd step is a process of formalization and refinement.
 
  Increase Quality of the Brainstorming Process
Damodaram Kuppuswami, India
@Joyce Msolla: I agree with your view. Instilling confidence in individuals is essential. It provides familiar ground and enables ownership.
The purpose is that every individual in a group has level playing field to participate in the group processes.
 
  Intro/extrovert also Applies to Cultural Backgrounds
E Benshetler, USA
@Juan Perez Eras: Excellent point that applies in a cross-cultural setting, too. People in cultures that place a higher emphasis on collective harmony might be more hesitant to offer individual ideas.
And again a facilitator who ensures that the ideas from the individual private preparation are presented first can overcome this reluctance. This is even easier if the initial ideas are submitted ahead of time or brought to the meeting in writing.
 
  Start Brainstorming Process Individually
Jennifer C. Galvez, Philippines
Starting first with individually considering the topic at hand helps you to filter your thoughts and narrow down your choices of decisions.
It seems so basic in management, yet it's fundamentally integral especially when you're expected to make a contribution for the success of your organization.
 
  Activates the Unconscious
Goran Stille, Sweden
@Zahra Gheidar: But the unconscious is not some mechanical unit that after being activated stays activated. In my view is my unconscious is a rather tricky unit that comes and goes as it pleases. And it goes beyond me to identify if my unconscious at some instant in time is on or off and what causes changes to occur.
 
  Getting the Best Out of Brainstorming
Gabriel A. Donkoh, Ghana
I agree with Alex Dail, people think deeper and clearer when they are alone than in a group. It helps people to go into the subconscious and you can expect the best to be brought out later in the group phase.
 
  Start Brainstorming Process Individually
muyiwa okesanya, Nigeria
For any individual to fit in into group brainstorming process such individuals need to have a fair idea of the subject of discussion.
This implies that we need to prepare ourself through acquisition of more knowledge and skills via a constant training and development program.
 
  Start Brainstorming Process Individually
melchiorre calabrese, Italy
I agree that it is agood idea to have the members initially spend some time to think for themselves.
But still the danger remains real that the thoughts of some "natural leader" prevail anyhow during the following brainstorming session(s).
It therefore remains of paramount importance to have a good facilitator to promote the free flow of thought of all the others.
 
  A Potential Solution to Allow Individuals to Brainstorm.. Together
Jeremy Lu, Australia
There's obviously a lot of need in this area to reduce the impact of groupthink and cognitive bias.
For those who are interested, you can look at groupmap.com which allows individuals to brainstorm individually in the first instance... And THEN you can turn on the collaborative function for ideas to be added and removed.

The Group View can then be used to see what everyone thinks, capture comments and undertake voting for action.

You can just pick the brainstorming map that best suits your needs.
Hope this is helpful, and feel free to let me know fi you have any feedback.
 
  The Value of Writing as a Participatory Tool
Garth Nowland-Foreman, New Zealand
People often over-look and under-estimate the value of 'writing' as one (of perhaps a dozen or so types of) participatory tools in decision-making groups.
So indeed everybody write down their own ideas first, then brainstorm.
It not only enables greater first-order diversity and novelty, but it also gives more introverted and reflective participants more confidence and time to contribute. The loudest mouths and the fastest talkers are not necessarily the smartest people in the room!
 
   
 

   
 


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