Avoiding Group Think

Wed, Dec 29, 2010

Bruce DeBoer, Editorials

Osborn’s brainstorm as practiced nearly everywhere I’ve been is mostly worthless and definitely costly measured in a Man Hour : Fresh Idea ratio. Yet, in the right creative culture thinking groups avoid group think.  Check out what David Segal found.

In Pursuit of the Perfect Brainstorm

- article by David Segal, a business reporter for The New York Times [find it here].

“Like many of its competitors’, Jump’s core offering is an assortment of refinements to old-fashioned brainstorming. The analogy to weather built into that term is apt, it turns out, because Jump and others contend that without the right atmospheric mix, no brainstorming session will produce the cognitive version of lightning. Dev Patnaik, a sunny, kinetic co-founder and the chief executive of Jump, notes that even under ideal circumstances, traditional brainstorming can devolve into a kind of competitive idea tennis. You think of a new use for pencil. Then me. Then you. Then me. Somehow, the unstated goal is winning, however ill defined victory might seem, instead of ginning up virtuoso concepts.”

The dot-com boom accelerated the process, Govindarajan says. “In the late ’90s, people started to say strategy isn’t about stability, it’s about change,” he says.

He recommends to clients what he calls the 30-30 rule: 30 percent of the people who make strategic decisions should be 30 years old or younger. “The executives who’ve been there a long time, they grew up in Box 1 [everything a company now does to manage and improve performance],” he says. “You need voices in the room that aren’t vested in the past.”

2 Responses to “Avoiding Group Think”

  1. Kristin Says:

    B: It’s funny that with everything I read on a daily basis for work, the article you reference is a re-dux for me. Jump offers brainstorming training as a service for fee (and a big stinking large fee at that). What my company offers, is a way to improve corporate communications (everything from emails to board meetings) when highly cognitive thinking needs to go beyond brainstorming. Brainstorming is intended to generate ideas; Precision Questioning and Answering (our workshop) gives you a toolkit for moving on those ideas and going beyond the brainstorming — to action items, met timelines, etc.

    • Bruce DeBoer Says:

      I can see the need for both depending on circumstances. One possible downfall of the workshop concept is that it may ignore company culture. Void of a creative culture, thinking can be too linear at best and too mired in legacy at worst.

      Companies like IDEO or Jump are as much about incubation as they are about ideation in my opinion.

      Has your company done any work with corporate culture?


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