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Kill the wabbit

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Need to spark some killer innovation into your product line? Thinking about holding a brainstorming session? Brainstorming sessions are for wusses and wusses don’t get the corner office. Instead, …

Need to spark some killer innovation into your product line? Thinking about holding a brainstorming session? Brainstorming sessions are for wusses and wusses don’t get the corner office. Instead, you’ll learn some more productive techniques that can help you to release your inner-Hulk and become that guy that everyone wants on their next-generation product.
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  • Each individual will fill out their card on their own without any peeking at others.They hand these in. Then they get together in a group and try working through and deciding a final order as a group.I enter their individual ranking and team rank into a spreadsheet I have built to score the event.If all goes as it almost always does, the team will have a better average than all of the other individuals.This exercise was stolen from The Thinker’s Toolkit, Morgan D. Jones - p.53.
  • Typical brainstorms really come down to a couple of dominators and the boss (if present). Everyone else feels weakened.
  • [Continue the beginning exercise by doing a group selection]
  • 1958 Yale University Study refuted Brainstorming concepts of Alex Osborn (1948) BBDO48 Subjects for each GroupEach Group was divided into 12 sub-groups of 4 peopleFirst group all participated in brainstormSecond group all worked on the problem individually and then reconvened at the end.The individual group produced twice as many ideas. The judges also said the ideas were more feasible and effective in solving the original problem.
  • Study – 2003 Charlan Nemeth, psychologist, UC Berkley 265 undergrads“How can traffic congestion be reduced in San Francisco?”20 MinutesGroup 1 – no instructions given – just go work it out.Group 2 – classic brainstorming techniques (don’t criticize, etc.)Group 3 - - group brainstorm, but suggested that debate and criticism often helped.Group 3 had 20% more ideas.Then each individual from the study was later pulled aside and asked if they had any more ideas.Individuals from Groups 1 & 2 had on average 3 new ideasIndividuals from Group 3 had on average 7 new ideas.[“Groupthink” – Jonah Lehrer – The New Yorker 30-Jan-2012]
  • Research by ModupeAkinola “The Dark Side of Creativity”Participants were asked to describe their dream job in front of a room of peopleGroup A’s audience were instructed to give positive affirmation by words and body languageGroup B’s audience were instructed to give negative criticism by words and body languageAfter each session, participants were given art materials and asked to make a collageSubjects in Group B produced much better art.Rejection improves focus.[The Creativity of Anger – Jonah Lehrer – 29-Aug-2011]
  • BS sessions often grab too many people for too much time. You can watch the money tick away with every passing hour.Most people give up after 5 minutes of unstructured thought.Most people will give up after 10-15 minutes of Right Questions (Brainsteering p 124)
  • BS sessions often get together for a nebulous goal (“Design the next big idea”). They wander around without structure while everyone blasts through their ideas. Then when they are done they are not sure what they have. They don’t define the end state properly and set the hard decisioning rules to get them there.
  • Meeting often have a boss or other hierarchy present which intimidates participants. In addition there are usually one or two loudmouths that dominate the meeting.Also, if we are truly listening to others ideas to build upon, there’s hardly any time for your own thought. Then when you do come up with an idea, the chance that the floor is free to talk is remote.
  • Half the folks attending will likely be introverts that do their best thinking at their desk. Another portion will think they can just coast because others will do the work.Downward Norm Setting – The least productive members of the group have more influence on overall group performance than the high flyer.
  • Look at all of your problems. What single thing do they all have in common?You.Similar thing here, the common element here is Bugs (the brainstorm). That leaves us with only one option…
  • Brainstorming is like a cute little bunny. It so harmless, soft, warm, and cuddly. The bottom line is that it is truly a rabbit, a pest that will chew up your garden and waste your investment. There’s only one option.
  • These problems all boil down to Who, How, and What. We’ll be focusing my solution by addressing these three key areas.
  • Groups of participants can be labeled by two variables – mood and activation. Mood should be pretty obvious. Activation is how likely they are to take respond to a stimulus.This graph demonstrates that the key to selecting people for active ideation sessions, they must be strong activators, regardless of their mood.The Shiny Happy People (good mood activators) are better for solving fuzzier, more general types of problems.The Anger People (bad mod activators) are better at solving more detailed and specific problems.
  • In choosing the population to gather for your ideation session, seek a diverse group of people that don’t often work together, if possible. This may or may not be possible depending on domain expertise required.The facilitator should divide the teams in a way to ensure that diversity is kept. This means not letting people choose their own groups.There is one exception to that – The Dominators. This group contains the conversation dominating folks, and if the boss has to be present, the boss.
  • Too many BS start out with Think Outside the Box. The problem is everything but the box is included outside of the box. EVERYTHING! Good solutions require constraints. Hared limits set up front.The box may be expanded, but there’s always a box.Know what it is ahead of time. Articulate it for everyone.
  • This is one way you can constrain the box. There are many. Any and all hard constraints should be identified from the very beginning of the exercise.The concept of Right Questions are from Brainsteering (see My Recommendations page at the end)
  • A good Right Question seems to typically fall into one of these 4 classifications.
  • Here are four of my favorites.
  • [demonstration – tensing your fist tight for 20 seconds, then release]The ideation stage requires both relaxation and contraction throughout the entire process. Relaxation is necessary for the incubator to work at its peak efficiency. It works while you aren’t thinking about things. In the shower, before you fall asleep,etc. Alpha wave domination demonstrates a relaxed mind.Tension is valuable in making ideas productive as will be demonstrated later are great for driving the details.
  • During incubation, the visual cortex goes quiet and alpha wave activity increasesSpikes in high alpha wave activity can be used to predict A-Ha insights up to 8 seconds before a person is aware of it.High alpha wave activity is better for solving lateral thinking puzzles
  • The challenge is how do you meet all the seemingly contradicting styles and components of effective thinking and decision making?
  • You can repeat the Incubation / Refactor stage as many times as needed until you feel you have adequately exhausted the idea pool. The key here is that there needs to be at least 1 day of incubation between each session. You can go longer if it feels like it will help.
  • Important the the leaders decide themselves. This is not a democracy.
  • This is the basic process I am recommending. It steals components from other ideation sessions and combines them into a unique flow.There are 4 roles.The sponsor is the person that has the problem to be solved. He works with the Facilitator to get a question framed best for the session. The facilitator than implements this system presented here.The ideators are solely responsible for coming up with candidate ideas and are responsible for the rigorous debate.Group leads are ideators as well, but they ultimately have a decision making process that the rest of the team does not.Group leaders take candidate solutions back to the Sponsor for his/her decision.
  • Brainstorming sessions typically follow an S Curve. (Richard Foster, The Attacker’s Advantage)1) At first they take a while to heat up the engine. Ideas come out slowly, or aren’t very good. One of the causes of this is that the problem isn’t seeded well. Often a leader will say something like “Let’s think of the next big thing we can produce to make a million dollars.2) Then they start to hit their “zone” This is what sociologist Matt Ridley calls “Ideas Having Sex”3) Then they level out. The well runs dry. This can also happen when you get the same people together for all the brainstorming sessions. They all norm and lose their desire to procreate ideas.
  • The issue of a weak problem definition is that people are told to think outside of the box.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Please take a moment and fill in the index card at your table. It’s part of a study I am conducting.Kill the Wabbit Do not discuss with others nor share your results, please. When you are finished, turn your card face down and leave it on the table. If you would like to get the results of the study, please put your email address on the card.
    • 2. Kill the Wabbit How anger management training and brainstorming may be keeping you from the corner office. Joe Kleinwaechter Director, Innovation & Design Fiserv
    • 3. “Decades of research have consistently shown that brainstorming groups think of farFail fewer ideas than the same number of people who work alone and pool their ideas.” Keith Sawyer Psychologist Washington University
    • 4. 20 ParticipantsA Typical Brainstorm 3 Coasters 10 Introverts 1 Boss This is your brainstorm: 3 Scared 1 Boss and 1 Facilitator 2 Loudmouths 2 Loudmouths
    • 5. Science Science Practice The Science
    • 6. Study: Individuals Matter Brainstorm 2X the Ideas (feasible/effective)
    • 7. Anything More? NoStudy: Debate Matters instructions Classic BS 20% BS + More Debate Ideas
    • 8. Study: Criticism Matters Cool Results
    • 9. Science Practic ePractice In Practice
    • 10. Why Brainstorms FailLong and Costly
    • 11. Why Brainstorms Fail Aimless and Undefined End
    • 12. Why Brainstorms Fail Bosses and Loudmouths
    • 13. Why Brainstorms Fail Introversion and Apathy
    • 14. Hmmm…. As my momma used to say…
    • 15. Only One Thing to DoKill the Wabbit!
    • 16. This Boils Down To… Who Bosses and Loudmouths Introversion and Apathy How Long and Costly Wha t Aimless and Undefined End
    • 17. Who Who What How Who
    • 18. Activatio Weak n StrongMood Activation Matrix Woodstock Shiny Happy Good People Mood Sadness Anger Bad
    • 19. 1. IndependenceDiversity is Critical 2. Diversity 3. Decentralization 4. Aggregation Except in one case: The Dominators
    • 20. What Who What How What
    • 21. Problem of the Box
    • 22. Right QuestionsConstraining the Box Questions posed before an ideation session that are meant to both open up possibilities and constrain the 101 of them options available. here.
    • 23. What’s a Right Question? * Does the question 1. target an aspect that has received little attention in the past? 2. cause a different perspective? 3. address new circumstances? 4. have information available to arrive at an answer?
    • 24. Who spends at least 50% of what our product costs toSome Right Questions adapt it to their needs? How would we do things differently if we had perfect information about our customers? What does our most successful sales person say differently than the rest? Who else deals with the same generic problem that we do, but for an entirely different reason?
    • 25. How Who What How How
    • 26. Tense Peace Incubation Tension ❉ Insight  Production ❉ Epiphany  Detail ❉ Wacky  Focus
    • 27. Incubation α High waves Low visual cortex
    • 28. The Challenge
    • 29. Divid Ideat Incubat Refactor Compet Selec e e e e t * Teams of 3-5 No one can hide!Divide * Each group has a lead *1 group of dominators * All groups are solving the same problem
    • 30. Divid Ideat Incubat Refactor Compet Selec e e e e t * Each team gets a different RQIdeate * 30m round of speed ball and plussing * 15m of teardown/rebuttal
    • 31. Divid Ideat Incubat Refactor Compet Selec e e e e t Fuggetaboutit!Incubate
    • 32. Divid Ideat Incubat Refacto Compet Selec e e e r e t * Reassemble into original teamsRefactor * 30m round of plussing and new ideas * 15m of teardown/rebuttal * Rinse / Repeat if necessary
    • 33. Divid Ideat Incubat Refactor Compet Selec e e e e t * Leaders choose 2 best ideas from teamCompete * Leaders-only meeting to present to sponsor Optional: Leaders present/defend other’s ideas. * Interactive tear-down session
    • 34. Divid Ideat Incubat Refactor Compet Selec e e e e t * Sponsor chooses best optionSelect * This is not a democracy!
    • 35. Divid Ideat Incubat Refactor Compet Selec e e e e t Here’s our Here’s my solutions problemThe Method Sponsor Group Facilitato Leads r Here’s our Here’s the ideas rules
    • 36. * BrainsteeringMy Recommendations Kevin & Shawn Coyne * The Wisdom of Crowds James Surowiecki * TheInnovator’s DNA Clayton Christensen * TheInnovator’s Toolkit David Silverstein
    • 37. .comContact Info jkleinwaechter joe.kleinwaechter@gmail.com 404.514.0646
    • 38. Optional Slides Optional Reference Slides
    • 39. Brainstorming S-Curve Same Who People How Ideas Having Sex Wha Weak Problem t Definition
    • 40. Remember this issue?It’s a Box Problem Weak Problem Definition It’s a box problem.

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