Creative Collaboration Is the Solution for the Toughest Business Problems

Collaboration drives creativity because innovation always emerges from a series of sparks — never a single flash of insight.

- Ken Sawyer

Do you have a business problem that is nagging and tough to solve? Have you tried a brainstorming session with your team to create new solution ideas? Brainstorming is a great way to jumpstart your team’s creative collaboration.

There are 4 general rules you should employ if you are planning a brainstorm session:

Focus on quantity

This rule is a means of enhancing divergent production, aiming to facilitate problem-solving through the maxim quantity breeds quality. The assumption is that the greater the number of ideas generated, the greater the chance of producing a radical and effective solution.

Withhold criticism

In brainstorming, criticism of ideas generated should be put ‘on hold’. Instead, participants should focus on extending or adding to ideas, reserving criticism for a later ‘critical stage’ of the process.

Welcome unusual ideas To get a good and long list of ideas, unusual ideas are welcomed. They can be generated by looking from new perspectives and suspending assumptions.

Combine and improve ideas

Good ideas may be combined to form a single better good idea, as suggested by the slogan “1+1=3″.

Here are 8 tips we use with clients when we run brainstorming workshops as facilitators:

Think and rethink the problem brainstorming on the wrong problem will really ruin your day. We usually spend our first session brainstorming the problem definition.

Prepare, prepare, prepare … these sessions take considerable thought and planning to yield good results. As our general rule, the more you put into preparation, the more the session will yield.

Use a facilitator and ensure the group has a leader.

Take notes as you go … and remember to defer judgment

Choose a group … of diverse people, not more than 7–8. The more diverse thinking and skill base the better.

Don’t stop … when you think you’ve found eureka. We believe several iterative sessions is the best approach.

Elaborate on session improvement … at the end of each session.

Consider threats … to ideas to widen the thinking.

Creative collaboration is the best way to speed up the gathering of new ideas and gets your entire team as owners of the process. The best way to kickstart creative collaboration is with several sessions of effective brainstorming. Remember, like anything else you are learning, there is no substitute for practical experience.

Mike Schoultz writes about improving the performance of business. Bookmark his blog for stories and articles.