1. Brainwriting
A Collaboration Tool for Introverts
By Costa Michailidis

“Innovation is for a few ‘special’ people.”

“Creativity is innate. You either have it, or you don’t!”

Part of the work we do at Innovation Bound is bust myths like these, and one of our favorite myths, that has percolated more recently, is the notion that collaboration is bad for innovation, and that true breakthroughs are made solo. Why would the individual, group, or crowd be “the best medium for innovation?” Powerful innovations have resulted from all three of these, and context (the challenge at hand, available resources, et cetera) clearly plays a critical role. We dug a little deeper and came to an interesting challenge: How can groups have effective fair collaborations that are not dominated by strong personalities and extroverted behavior?

A Quiet Idea Generation Tool

The solution we’ve found most effective is an exercise called Brainwriting. It is a powerful way to quickly generate and build on one another’s ideas. Here’s how it’s done:

Take a few sheets of paper and draw Tic-Tac-Toe grids on them, so that each sheet is divided up into nine boxes.
      Hand one of these sheets to each participant.
      Assuming you’ve already phrased a challenge for which to generate solutions, have each participant write out three ideas for solutions; one in each of the top three boxes.
      As participants finish, they can place their sheets in the center of the table, and take sheets other participants have placed in the center.
      With a new sheet in hand, top row filled out, participants should build on each of the three ideas in the top row, and write down the new ideas in the second row.
      Repeat this process until all nine boxes on all of the sheets are filled out.
If you need more ideas, you can use larger grids. Participants can build on each others ideas very directly, or just be “inspired by” the other ideas on the sheet. You can also do the exact same exercise on a Google Spreadsheet live online from different geographical locations.

Doing the work that we do has shown us time and time again that there is always a way to overcome obstacles, to tackle challenges, and to reach our goals. Don’t let common myths get in your way.

Sources:

The style of brainwriting described in our article is adapted from the original developed by Professor Bernd Rohrbach in 1968.
We thank Bruce Campbell for his elegant sculpture: Untitled (Nervous System).

    Brainwriting

    A Collaboration Tool for Introverts

    By Costa Michailidis


    “Innovation is for a few ‘special’ people.”


    “Creativity is innate. You either have it, or you don’t!”


    Part of the work we do at Innovation Bound is bust myths like these, and one of our favorite myths, that has percolated more recently, is the notion that collaboration is bad for innovation, and that true breakthroughs are made solo. Why would the individual, group, or crowd be “the best medium for innovation?” Powerful innovations have resulted from all three of these, and context (the challenge at hand, available resources, et cetera) clearly plays a critical role. We dug a little deeper and came to an interesting challenge: How can groups have effective fair collaborations that are not dominated by strong personalities and extroverted behavior?


    A Quiet Idea Generation Tool


    The solution we’ve found most effective is an exercise called Brainwriting. It is a powerful way to quickly generate and build on one another’s ideas. Here’s how it’s done:


    • Take a few sheets of paper and draw Tic-Tac-Toe grids on them, so that each sheet is divided up into nine boxes.
    • Hand one of these sheets to each participant.
    • Assuming you’ve already phrased a challenge for which to generate solutions, have each participant write out three ideas for solutions; one in each of the top three boxes.
    • As participants finish, they can place their sheets in the center of the table, and take sheets other participants have placed in the center.
    • With a new sheet in hand, top row filled out, participants should build on each of the three ideas in the top row, and write down the new ideas in the second row.
    • Repeat this process until all nine boxes on all of the sheets are filled out.

    If you need more ideas, you can use larger grids. Participants can build on each others ideas very directly, or just be “inspired by” the other ideas on the sheet. You can also do the exact same exercise on a Google Spreadsheet live online from different geographical locations.


    Doing the work that we do has shown us time and time again that there is always a way to overcome obstacles, to tackle challenges, and to reach our goals. Don’t let common myths get in your way.


    Sources:

    • The style of brainwriting described in our article is adapted from the original developed by Professor Bernd Rohrbach in 1968.
    • We thank Bruce Campbell for his elegant sculpture: Untitled (Nervous System).

    See full post and discussion
    Posted: 1 year ago
  2. Portable Think Tank


    By Stavros Michailidis


    For some people, coming up with original ideas can be difficult. For others, it can be energizing and enjoyable.


    Here is a tool called Portable Think Tank that can help you generate unique ideas when you are stuck. I learned about it in an online course for training creative thinking. It is designed to spark ideas by thinking about them from others’ point of view – but who’s point of view is the important question.


    Step 1: Create a list of candidates for your Portable Think Tank


    • List the names of some great thinkers of today.
    • List the names of some great characters from history.
    • List the names of some of your favorite cartoon characters.
    • List the names of some of your favorite movie characters.
    • Finally, add the names of anyone else (real or fictional) who you think is fascinating, creative, or just plain funny.

    Step 2: Pick the top 10


    Think about the particular challenge you are facing and select candidates from your portable think tank. You can be deliberate or random in your selection.


    Step 3: Generate ideas to address your challenge


    Ask yourself, “How would __________ solve this challenge?” filling in the blank with the name of one of your Portable Think Tank members. Repeat this multiple times and for multiple people in your think tank. Try to generate at least 25 ideas.


    This is a great tool for quickly generating some novel thinking. It works particularly well in a group where you can build on one another’s responses. Whenever we’ve tried this the room is always brimming with energy, laughter, and great ideas.


    See full post and discussion
    Posted: 1 year ago
  3. PPCO: Why it is a great Creative Power Tool to take out for a spin this summer


    …If you want to boost creative output.


    By Russ Schoen


    Imagine you are teaching a child to ride a bicycle. You make sure his helmet, elbow and knee pads are on correctly. You help him onto the bike and give him a gentle push and he peddles away for the first time.


    15 seconds later, the bike starts to wobble and the child falls off the bike. You catch up to him and he is looking up to you, waiting for you to give him some feedback.


    Would you say?


    “I can’t believe you fell off. You’ll never learn to ride a bike!”


    "Pluses
    Potentials
    Concerns
    Overcomes”

    Of course you wouldn’t.


    You’d probably focus on what worked and give a suggestion for improvement. Maybe, you’d say something like, “Way to go. You rode the bike for 15 seconds. Try again and this time focus on holding the handle bars straighter.”


    Now, why is this second approach much more useful to a child? Because is encourages him to do what’s working and to improve what is not.


    And here’s the thing. The same principle holds for yourself and for those you work with. If you want more creative output, give feedback in a way that supports and nurtures what is working and encourages to change what isn’t.


    And one of the best all around tools to do that is PPCO.


    What is PPCO?


    PPCo is a thinking tool that is effective at giving people or yourself feedback in a way that supports creative thinking. It is a simple structure that is easy to use. Each letter in the tool has a meaning:


    The first P stands for Plusses: What is good about the idea?


    The second P stands for Potentials: If the idea succeeds, what other benefits might result?


    The C stands for Concerns: Phrase your concerns as open ended questions that begin with the phrase How to.


    The O stands for Overcoming Concerns: brainstorm ideas for answering your concern.


    When you want to give someone feedback (including yourself) on a new idea or project, use PPCO.


    An example of a PPCO


    Let’s say you run a local sandwich shop and you are looking to grow your business. One of your employees comes up with a detailed recommendation to attract college students to the shop.


    Using a PPCO, you would first share


    Plusses: What is good about the idea?

    So looking at the recommendation, really focus on the positive aspects.

    Plusses: College market is huge, there are multiple colleges within 10 miles of the shop, this is a great way to spread word of mouth marketing.


    Potentials: If the idea succeeds, what other benefits might result?

    Potentials: It might lead to… increased profits, new store locations, more vacation time.


    Concerns: Phrased as open ended questions that starts with how to.

    Concern: How to make a really compelling offer to a college student?


    Overcome your concerns: Brainstorm ideas to answer your concern

    How to make a really compelling offer to a college student?

    Do a buy one, get one offer. Offer free delivery. Offer a mid-semester and final exam special. Offer student groups, big discounts to cater their events.


    Now imagine, the person who came to you with this idea. By giving them feedback in this manner, you have encouraged them and empowered them to continue sharing their ideas. And this is just one benefit of a PPCO


    Why PPCO is so useful to boost creative output?


    PPCO is a tool that when used well creates a safe environment for people to share new ideas and try new things. Instead of projects or ideas that aren’t perfect being “punished”, the emphasis is on learning and focusing on what working and tweaking what doesn’t.


    And it is quick to use. You can use PPCO in 15 minutes or less.


    Now, you may be thinking that something like, this PPCO tool is way too easy, how can it really make a difference.


    Put PPCO to the test in the next 15 minutes


    "Feedback is
    the breakfast
    of champions.”

    -Ken Blanchard

    From having personally used this tool with everyone from teenagers to Fortune 500 executives, to teachers, I can tell you that it creates a lot of value and positive energy. But don’t take my word for it.


    I want you to take it out for a spin and here’s how.


    The next time you have an idea to solve a challenge or someone (your child, spouse, a co-worker) brings a new idea to you or you need to give someone feedback, use PPCO.


      As a reminder,
    • First share the plusses: What is good about the idea/project?
    • Then share the potentials: If this idea or project was successful, what future benefits might result?
    • Think of any concerns: share them as how to questions
    • Overcome concerns: come up with ways to answer the concerns.

    Go ahead and try the tool now!


    Just like a child who falls off a bike needs a little encouragement to get back on and try again, one secret of creative leadership is so do most adults.


    Use the PPCO tool and watch yourself and others peddle their way to success.


    The PPCO was originated in the early 1980’s by Diane Foucar-Szocki, Bill Shephard and Roger Firestein.


    See full post and discussion
    Posted: 2 years ago