When I was six or seven years old, my grandfather took a trip to Australia and brought me back a boomerang. While I thought it was the coolest thing, no matter how much I practiced throwing it, it would never come back.
A non-returning boomerang was exasperating since that is the whole purpose of a boomerang. Right?
However, if I were to fill a field with boomerang beginners who lacked instruction, there is an excellent chance we’d come to the collective conclusion that boomerangs don’t work… Could we all be bad at the process? It must be a gimmick, like X-Ray Vision Glasses.
Of course, we could immediately disapprove our theory with a demonstration by a skilled boomerang thrower. And, once shown the technique, we could all be successful.
This boomerang story comes to mind each time someone complains that brainstorming doesn’t work. And each time someone quotes the research* indicating brainstorming doesn’t work.
The research is easy to believe. We all have been in mind-numbing “brainstorming” sessions that waste time and lack innovative output.
But, this too is an example of blaming the device when we’re bad at the process.
I agree, to brainstorm in a group, using only the basic 4-rules created by Alex Osborn in 1939, is not the most efficient way to generate ideas. And, if this is the process you or your team is using – well, it is no wonder you think it sucks.
If you’re frustrated with the lack of great ideas at your company, learn how to lead structured idea generation sessions. Put in place a contemporary innovation process, or hire an expert to help.
Even as a little kid, I knew it wasn’t the boomerang, but my technique.
Don’t let inadequate brainstorming methods be your excuse for not trying effective methods. Don’t let the frustration of poor form cheat you, your team, or your company from creating remarkable ideas.