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Stop brainstorming

Started by droqen, June 18, 2022, 02:35:16 PM

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Quote[..] the critical factor in the failure of brainstorm [is] not the presence of a facilitator, the amount of time the team has, the diagrams they draw, or the language they use.

It's the group itself.

QuoteIdeas are best developed by individuals.

Why, then, did Osborn get so excited about brainstorming? What problem are leaders trying to solve? If individuals are just as good at coming up with ideas, why put them in a group and risk their productivity?

Because ideas, no matter who comes up with them, need to be shared. Effective collaboration relies on constant communication of ideas — between individuals, in small groups, and to all-encompassing audiences.

Osborn's brainstorming meetings weren't successful because he put a bunch of scotch-sipping ad men in a room together. It was successful because, maybe for the first time in their careers, these creative thinkers were told "We won't tell you your idea is bad."

Quote[..] psychological safety. It's the feeling that you can show up to work without the fear that your contributions will have negative consequences to your self-image, status, or career.

QuoteIf a group feels psychologically safe, they'll be just as effective coming up with ideas on their own and sharing them as they go. If there's no psychological safety, the team isn't performing at their best, and a brainstorm is only going to exacerbate fears of negative judgment.

QuoteIf your team is already producing lots of ideas, let them keep doing it however they want. If your team isn't producing lots of ideas, work on psychological safety.

Whatever you do, don't schedule a brainstorm.


My takeaway here is psychological safety, though the clickbait title did its job -- grabbing my eye -- effectively.

I've been playing TTRPGs for a very long time and have had many conversations with people about these games as well as about principles of improv, and though different structures produce different output (compare the output of a session of Microscope to one of Masks), none of them provide psychological safety.


QuoteHow to build psychological safety on a creative team is beyond the scope of this one essay

How do we build "psychologically safe" creative teams?

For the past year or two I've been thinking about this.

It's a hard problem.


My own approach lately has been imprecise and messy: Create or join groups, put us into creative situations, and see the ways in which we creatively succeed at coming together or fail to do so! Along the way I have experienced a great number of "psychologically unsafe" situations, stressful and chaotic social environments. I have experience.

Can I sublimate these experiences into the beginnings of a working theory of how to build the fabled "psychologically safe" creative team?