• The Diwali


        Thank for your compassionate leadership. For that I just nominated you for the Global Teacher Award. Look out in your spam mailbox for further instructions from the committee.

        All the Best,
        The Diwali

  1. The Diwali

    Let me ask you this question before I submit my final nomination for you. Have you read Street Lamp Effects?

    If yes, let me know your thoughts on it.

  2. A thoughtful post as always.

    I use brainstorming as a tool – usually in a problem solving context to generate possible solutions. You need to have a focus, and the more knowledge/thought participants have put into the problem prior to the brainstorm, the better.

    A facilitator’s role in a brainstorming meeting can be crucial too. Allowing the “creativity to flow” and not get bogged down in “we can’t do that” mentality.

  3. Cale Birk

    I would guess that poorly facilitated ‘brainstorming’ (or anything else in unproductive meetings, for that matter) rarely leads to the desired outcome. Task predicts performance, and the job of a good meeting facilitator is to design the tasks for the group with structures that allow for creative and innovative ideas to flow.

    IDEO uses brainstorming extensively, but utilizes ‘brainstorm rules’ to encourage ‘wild solutions’ in the ideation phase. One of their keys is to listen, and pay full attention, which is somewhat antithetical to the type of brainstorming that you are referring to. Their goal is to have people build upon other ideas while simultaneously going wide to get quantity. Having tried the methods they have suggested while going in with a belief in the fact that the group will come up with more and better ideas, I have been stunned at the breadth and depth of the results.

    Just my experiences, though.

    • George

      In all honesty, do you believe that the process that you are referring to is the norm in schools? If it isn’t, how do we get there?

  4. Dea

    To get schools to utilize brainstorming in a more effective way, like what they teach at IDEO and the d.School at Stanford, you train educators in the method and encourage them to teach it to their students. I just got back from the Nueva School Design Thinking Institute where they teach the method to educators. They had students teaching us the method. it was an amazing experience!

  5. Michael Mitchell

    Great post George. I think in the end what This makes me think about is when striving for innovation it’s effective communication that is what’s truly needed. If one is not listening with an empty mind but thinking or preparing a response, they are not truly listening. When one does not check for understanding when one shares something, one may be projecting their own MAPs on what is being said. In my days of change management before I got involved in education, we used to do an activity with our clients called earn the right to speak. The speaker could not let others speak their views or thoughts until he or she felt comfortable that the others understood where he or she was coming from. They may not agree but at minimal understand. It was a bit over the top but the practice led to better listening and understanding which I believe will spur innovation. Sounds easy but it was extremely challenging and forces one to check their own MAPs and challenge their way of thinking.

  6. Brainstorming that is just a commentary on what is known results in a multiple interpretations of the same problem. This can be likened to the futile quest of trying to balance an egg on the same flat surface. As more angles are used to balance the egg, it is only the shape of the egg that is revealed, not the solution. On other hand, innovative brainstorming is a dialogue on the unknown (because it hasn’t been done yet); it’s about challenging the merit of multiple solutions to the same problem. This is reflected by those who have the vision to scan the terrain in order to recognize the surface which best balances the egg. Examining the nature of a problem only fuels more brainstorming. If the goal is to find a solution, brainstorming should always be a stepping stone for action (to do something better).

    Having an open mind at a meeting is not enough. Even with such a mindset, if the brainstorming lacks substance, you will leave the meeting most likely feeling as if you have not evolved or uninspired to try something new. How often have we heard complaints at the end of a meeting that the time was not meaningful? On the flipside, I never really hear people comment on what they could have done to make the meeting more meaningful. If a culture for innovation is not fostered into the dynamic of the group, the strategies used will lack fibre. Whether it is brainstorming or brainwriting, both can be valuable if the potential of the audience is tapped into.

  7. The Diwali


    Thanks for your insights: it reminded me of a story of a democratic leader of a free world picked his family vacation destination. When the press asked him why he picked a non-democratic or dictatorship country for his family retreat, he responded without hesitance as because he did not have to deal with free press or demonstrations :-)

    Reflections on your post yes I have suggested my leaders to come to faculty meeting without their own agenda but a blank agenda to listen to the auduence. They said they will consider it before their retirement :-)

  8. The Diwali

    I will leave you with this.
    I happened to read a diary of a doctor . They are struggled with the loss of their Noble Title and their life-time dedication to knowledge and Sevices for being controlled or managed by the less educated HMO, health management organization, aka their bosses. They no longer see them as doctors but assembly worker or technician for they no longer are able to diagnose their patients based on their will and knowledge or philosophy. All they do is follow a preset protocol blood test X-ray ultra sounds ct scan MRI, etc. they almost quit their jobs. Then finally they concluded: we may not be part of solution but we are all part of the problem. We used to be respected by our Noble tiles and work and contribution but we lost it because we took it for granted or or keep our eyes off the target. Regardless we learned and we will get it back by thinking, talking and acting like the Nobles: We are what we think we do for it is not fun to be managed or controlled. Free minds free people. That is what has been and will be.

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