Idea Killers Squash Brainstorming Enthusiasm

By Jeri Denniston, Chief Marketing Strategist, Denner Group International

Takeaways: Idea killers are people who can dampen or destroy the enthusiasm in a brainstorming session. How you deal with them is critical to turning an unproductive session into a productive one, despite these participants.

SmartStormingWe’ve all experienced it. You’re in a meeting with your colleagues and the boss asks for ideas to solve a particular problem. As people begin to offer them, one person present puts a damper on every idea contributed. It may even be the boss.

In their book SmartStorming, co-authors Mitchell Rigie and Keith Harmeyer talk about brainstorming as a collaborative process that often generates interesting ideas and results. Unfortunately, amongst the participants frequently you’ll find a few idea killers who can turn the process into a less than pleasant experience. Here are a few offenders the authors list in their book. See if you can identify any of them in your organization.

Attention vampires. These people always have to be the center of attention. They push their ideas forward and tend to dominant the conversation, often putting a damper on the brainstorming process.

Dictators. Every idea is great as long as it’s theirs. This reminds me of the commercial where the boss says, “There are three ways to do this: My way! My way! and My way!”

Idea Assassins. These people love to shoot down ideas. They always see everything wrong about any new concept. Rather than looking at the positives, they are first to point out all the possible negatives and flaws.

Obstructionists. They over-complicate everything, bringing up unrelated information that seems related but really isn’t, derailing the flow of ideas. They tend to over-think everything.

Social loafers. These people show up but don’t participate, appearing bored or aloof, letting everyone else generate the ideas.

Wet blankets. These are the pessimists who instantly shut down the enthusiasm of the session. Even though the majority of their comments aren’t viable, they succeed in turning a positive mood into a depressing one.

On their website,SmartStorming, the authors offer a variety of programs to help trainers learn methodology to conduct effective brainstorming sessions. These include a variety of tools to strengthen problem-solving activities. What are some of the ways you deal with these idea killers when you encounter them? Let us know by commenting on my LinkedIn post. Or fill out the contact form and let us know directly.

Right-Brain Thinking Increasingly Needed

By Jeri Denniston, Chief Marketing Strategist, Denner Group International  11/18/2011

Takeaways: Right-brain thinking is increasingly required as the world moves from the information age into the conceptual age.

The world is transitioning from the information age to the conceptual age. This means that left brain (predominantly analytical) thinking alone is no longer sufficient by itself to successfully grow a business.

A Whole New MindWhat is needed now is what Daniel Pink calls “right brain skills, like artistry, empathy, and big-picture thinking.”

Daniel Pink, a contributing editor at Wired Magazine, and a noted author and speaker, shares his philosophy in his book, A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age. You may purchase it from our store at the same price as you would on Amazon.com.

What he’s talking about is a whole brain approach to management – a systems thinking approach®. While the left brain skills of analysis, linear and logical thinking are still necessary, the world is evolving into a need for a more holistic approach, one that addresses not just product and price but contribution to society, design in terms of lifestyle and value, and emotional engagement.

Consider the Whole Customer

This means thinking about the whole person you serve as your customer – not just their pocket book. Whole Foods continues to do this successfully by focusing on whole health, organic products, delighting customers, supporting happy employees, and caring about the environment.

According to Pink, others like GM are beginning to do this as well, recognizing that creative input with an emphasis on world class design is necessary for future growth and success. Finding and hiring people who are motivated by their ability to create, by their desire to be part of a larger purpose, and not by money alone, will be the key as we transition from the information age to a conceptual one.

Companies that empower the artistic and creative talents in people will be more successful than those who only reward the routine analytical work of number-crunching, analysis, and jobs that don’t offer opportunities for independent thinking. Much of those analytical skills have been and will continue to be outsourced.

It’s the right-brain skills of design – be it industrial, graphic, environmental or even fashion design – that are becoming increasingly needed in organizations. Consultants will need to become literate in these skills in order to guide organizations as they reinvent themselves. Productivity in the workplace is increasingly impacted by workspace design and employee emotional engagement. This requires right-brain thinking to implement well.