Brainstorming’s Not for Naysayers!

Brainstorming’s for people who create – while cynics tend to taint its power to change, improve, or refresh practices in any workplaces. That’s from facts innate to the high-performing brain.

Could dynamic mental discoveries inspire your next brainstorming session?  Expert facilitators ensure that during any brainstorming session – all offerings are accepted – while criticism of any offering is not welcomed. Here’s why: 

Creativity tends to  motivate more brainpower for innovation – while cynicism or criticism tosses toxins into the mix.  Have you seen naysayers curb the flow of invention?  It doesn’t have to be that way.

What can be done to diminish the cortisol that critics bring to shut down progress, without disrespecting the critic? More importantly, how can facilitators welcome the serotonin that comes in inspiration during great  brainstorming sessions?

Why not invite positive ideas only, and simply suggest that no negative comments come initially – while ideas are being generated? That way brainstorming emits a chemical and electrical climate mentally for building positive solutions to even the most complex problems.

Solution-based brainstorming offers ways to draw more from differences and to hear from voices often silenced by disapproving of ideas. No surprise here. If you’ve attended brainstorming sessions that value other cultures, genders, backgrounds and beliefs, you’ve likely seen genuine curiosity trump criticism of ideas raised.

Most would agree that brainstorming sessions come with critics and cynics who will devalue alternative  ideas as they emerge. What can be done? More specifically, what can facilitators do to ensure tone that opens opportunites, to engage creative ideas, while refuses to silence voices? Some experts suggest entrepreneurs should keep things secret to friends and family who criticize.  Others suggest using brain based tactics to  value differences, in brainstorming sessions, and let chips fall where they will.  What do you think?

9 Comments

  1. rummuser says:

    Ellen, if my memory serves me right, some time ago, in this very blog I had commented on Edward DeBono’s methods of six hats, in brain storming and how I used to find it very useful in my earlier avatar as a corporate honcho. I still recommend it to any one struggling with poor outcomes from brain storming sessions.

    I certainly believe that brain storming works. It works best under proper conditions, usually to be set by the facilitator. If you like, I could try and locate that and let you have it.

    rummusers last blog post..A Journey That Is Totally Personal.

  2. eweber says:

    Ramana, your own vision for different ideas, and your own offering of innovative additions to others’ ideas — say this best!

    I am very familiar with DeBono’s methods, which bring in many voices so that an even greater solutions emerge in the end. That community at its best – and far fewer voices get silenced! Sadly, it’s rarely seen as a genuine force for growth.

    However, it’s leaders like you who model this in the marketplace of ideas — who will inspire great improvements to any workplace! Thanks for leading the charge here!

  3. Ellen, typically the cynic jumps in early to show why first suggestion won’t work well. I was just involved in an exchange for folks to suggest a name for a new community center. After the first person shared idea with the group, two jumped in almost immediately to show why it wouldn’t work well.

    After that many folks are fearful that their ideas aren’t good enough. It’s exactly why cynics can take away from creative ideas.

    It’s hard to create, but ever so easy to knock down.

    Cynics need to put their minds to bringing in their suggestions. It would be so much more productive.

    Robyn McMasters last blog post..Brain’s Dual Engines: Wired Neural Broadband

  4. eweber says:

    Ouch, they really do tend to pop up quickly, and that’s where skilled tactics are most needed to recover a sense of excitement for creative ideas.

    Sadly, it happens all too frequently – that we jump in to show negatives. While it takes time to create – and also requires certain risk to put our 2-bits forward. I agree!

    Robyn, you and I have both experienced entire cultures who express their anguish at voices that get silenced by the fast talking naysayers you raised here.

    Interestingly, when we show the brain’s equipment to build up or to tear down, some critics begin to offer great suggestions for building.

    If the cortisol spilled is too much, flame wars start, which is a pity since that too truncates even the wisest offerings in any group. When you think about it, creating an offering already takes risk. No wonder voices get silenced in the face of fast criticism. Yikes!

  5. Brainstorming has effective uses and can gain power and momentum when properly facilitated.
    I have been a part, and admittedly even facilitated failed brainstorming sessions.
    The culture of organizations that are quick to shoot the messanger increase this toxic soup.
    One area that I have found effective for brainstorming is developing ideas that participants share ideas while never speaking them out loud.
    By attempting as the facilitator to keep ideas open yet allow those who may be quieter to get their excellent ideas put forth amp up the session.
    here is a link to an activity that I created for an un-traditional BrainStorming program
    http://tinyurl.com/crvpx2

    michael carduss last blog post..Under Pressure: Develop leadership and team skills to work with pressure

  6. eweber says:

    The emphasis is skilled facilitation here, as you suggested, Mike! Having been part of both kinds one values the adventure of an experience like you’ve created here! What an exciting opportunity for more voices to surface! It’s also so well described that one can see the excitement in action. Mike your ideas offer a breath of fresh air in so many brain based ways! Thanks for sharing this site.

  7. […] Allow no judgments when brainstorming new ideas.  Suggest that no criticism be made against any offering until all insights are welcomed and displayed. Remind folks ahead that naysaying shuts out creativity.  […]

  8. […] Critics may hurl naysayer’s brain parts to tear down, yet tone offers valued choices for collaboratively building back up. It’s a choice the first few times, in spite of habitual responses that store in amygdala and then pop into reactions, with seemingly less choice over time. Criticism, that comes from poor tone, calls for another choice,  to renew with the brain in mind. Not that it changes the critic – but it upgrades your own profitability. […]

  9. […] 9. Brainstorm brain based solutions innovative peers rather than join in with naysayers who toss toxins into the mental mix. […]

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