During a brainstorming session do you often feel that you are wasting your time and that just a few ideas are taken into account instead of all? I do, and many times. But today I´m sharing with you a new technique I discovered thanks to a Harvard Business Review brief, and it´s called BrainSwarming. A new model for problem solving and idea generation that avoids the drawbacks of brainstorming. From my experience brainstorming sessions are not successful at all; people need time to think things through and in silent. When they are all together in one room talking at the same and spitting ideas out, it´s complicated to get the results expected. Especially when you have those “divas” that are trying to win the golden medal of the best idea, and intimidate the introverts and young ones. That is why when I found out about BrainSwarming I realized it´s a great technique that will help to achieve better results, faster.
What is BrainSwarming?
After researching why brainstorming inhibits creativity and innovation, the Innovation Researcher and Expert, Tony McCaffrey, and his colleagues, came up with a great new process called BrainSwarming. Here’s how BrainSwarming works: the process is conducted in silence, so there is no critiquing of ideas. Participants build off of each others’ ideas, adding sticky notes on a white board (a physical or virtual one). As people add ideas, a graph takes shape, a visualization of the creative process unfolding.
How to create a BrainSwarming graph:
- Define the problem & resources available for solving it. The goal is written at one end of the white board (often the top), and the resources used to solve it at the opposite end.
- Add ideas as offshoots of these.
- Eventually, the two ends meet in a solution.
- Analysis: participants talk about the results afterwards and share their thoughts. Then people vote or use some other method to evaluate the ideas generated.
Here is an example of BrainSwarming: the stuck truck problem
- Problem: a UPS driver whose truck got wedged under an underpass; how can he liberate it without help?
- Goal: is placed at the top of the board.
- General possibilities: they branch from the goal. All ideas are accepted no matter how crazy they might seem -lower the truck, elevate the underpass.
- Resources: are placed at the bottom of the graph- truck, underpass, and road.
- People add sticky notes for the components of each, followed by subcomponents.
- As the graph develops from each end, two solutions soon emerge: lowering the truck by deflating tires or lowering the truck by stressing the suspension system.
- As the graph is built out from top and bottom, solutions become apparent.
Source: Tony McCaffrey
Check out this video for more information about BrainSwarming and how it can help you to get better ideas, faster:
This new idea generation model helps companies to pay close attention to their employees´ ideas. It also creates a team effort spirit where everyone can feel appreciated and motivated (key elements for a successful business). BrainSwarming gives employees the confidence to share their ideas, provide solutions, and help solve problems.
It´s not only a creative process but also a great way for bringing people and ideas together.
I´m sure I´ll start using at the office this same week, will you? Let me know what you think.