Brainstorming: it’s a tool we’ve come to know and love (or hate) as a default way to generate fresh ideas for our projects, programs, and more when we’re stuck or just starting out.
However, in a recent Fast Company post and in his new e-book, Kevin Maney suggests it might be time to think of this old-school method as old news.
He writes that brainstorming “relies on a thunderstorm metaphor–a sudden swirl of energy that gets everybody’s attention for a moment, then passes by, dissipates, and leaves nothing behind.”
So, out with the brainstorm, Maney says, and in with with brainswarm.
How does it work? Below is a short summary of the steps:
- Get the right swarmers. Cultivate a tight-knit core swarm and get them into a room with fresh recruits who will say something to shake up the familiar.
- Have a swarm room. The worst place to jam on new ideas might just be the place where most companies today send people to jam on new ideas: the traditional conference room.
- Multiple writing and sketching surfaces are key. If everyone in the session has a pen and access to a writing surface, barriers to sharing ideas fall away.
- Herd the swarmers. Too many idea sessions start with a rule that there are no rules…if you have infinite choices, what do you choose?
- Be a critical swarm. Stop being so warm and fuzzy…Brainswarms need both a surfeit of ideas and constructive debate about those ideas. Bad ideas can lead to good debates that then lead to better ideas.
- Swarm success. There are lots of ways to make sure the ideas don’t get lost. Assign someone to synthesize and write up the swarm’s best ideas.
- Don’t stop. That’s the vital difference between brainswarms and brainstorms. Brainswarms never end.
How has brainstorming worked or not worked for you? Is it time for a new strategy?