Brainstorming was developed some 50 years ago by a US advertising guru called Alex Osborn.

His key insight was that people could be more creative if they could express their ideas without being evaluated and judged (research supports this).

Osborn predicted that a brainstorming group could generate twice as many ideas as other groups.

Subsequent research has not supported this prediction.

In fact, it has been found (in laboratory settings) that a group of individuals working by themselves who come together can be more productive than a classic brainstorming group.

The main reason?

This is because of a concept researchers call production blocking (i.e. where people take it in turns at suggesting their ideas).

It seems that when we have to wait not only do we risk forgetting our ideas but other people’s ideas get in the way of our ones.

My theory is also that it increases the likelihood of filtering our ideas because we have to wait.

It is for these reasons that we have developed a new problem-solving and idea generation tool for individuals, groups and teams that we call:

Ideas Blitz.

It can overcome the problem of production blocking.

Here’s how.

At the start of a Blitz we ask everyone to work by themselves and they are given the challenge of creating 9 new ideas in two minutes.

Yes that is right — 9 potential ideas or solutions in 2 minutes!

There is literally no time to filter your ideas.

The advantages of this approach are:

– everyone plays

– you can generate a huge number of ideas (there is a correlation between the number of ideas and the quality of ideas).

– the extroverts or senior people do not dominate

– A Blitz is fun, quick and energising

So rather than call a formal, slow and cumbersome brainstorming session try a Blitz.

The Blitz guidelines (these are flexible):

– 1 challenge per Blitz

– 1-6 people (although you can Blitz by yourself)

– 2 to 20 minutes

– start with the individual then work with a partner then the total group

– follow a semi-structured process (i.e. start, enhance, connect, evaluate and action).

So the next time you are thinking of running a brainstorming session — Just Blitz it instead!

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