Alternate approach to aid brainstorming

14 Jun 2010 Sandeep Mehta

HBR had an interesting article about brainstorming in My Eureka Moment With Strategy – Roger Martin:

Rather than have them talk about what they thought was true, ask them to specify what would have to be true for the option on the table to be a fantastic choice. It was magic. Clashing views turned into collaboration on really understanding the logic of the options.”
Why is it so important? The central reason is that it allows managers to step back from their beliefs and contemplate the possibility that they might not be entirely correct.

I really like this approach and am going to try it out in my next brainstorming meeting.  What has your experience been?

If you think an idea is the wrong way to approach a problem and someone asks you if you think it’s the right way, you’ll reply “no” and defend that answer against all comers. But if someone asks you to figure out what would have to be true for that approach to work, your frame of thinking changes. No one is asking you to take a stand on the idea, just to focus on what would have to be true for that idea to work. This subtle shift gives people a way to back away from their beliefs and allow exploration by which they give themselves the opportunity to learn something new.

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