1.1.22. Generating Ideas with Individuals and Groups

This session is on generating ideas with individuals and groups. There are lot of settings in entrepreneurship in which we need to generate a lot of ideas. For instance, identifying solution concepts for our new venture. That’s a setting in which we’d like to have several, five or ten, compelling solution concepts for how to address the opportunity. Now the dominant approach in practice today is to get the team together in a conference room in a meeting and to brainstorm. To go around the room, to write ideas on the white board. But it turns out that that’s not a terribly effective way to generate ideas. Let me give you an analogy.
Let’s imagine that a team of ten of us finds ourselves stranded on a deserted island. The key problem we face immediately is where to find food and water.
Now let’s imagine two approaches to searching the island. In the first approach we all get together in what might be characterized as a rugby scrum and we together move over the island looking for interesting things. Looking for food and water.
In the second approach we say, hey everybody go off in a different direction for 30 minutes. Let’s meet back here in 30 minutes and report back on what you’ve found.
I hope it’s self evident that the second approach is going to cover more territory and reveal more interesting options. Well, the same thing is true in generating ideas, about the worst thing you can do is get the entire team together in a room, in a rugby scrum, basically, all talking about the same ideas. Instead what’s much better is to get the same group to work independently and in parallel to explore lots of different territory and then to share what they found. I’ve actually done some empirical research in this area comparing two different approaches to generating ideas. In the group approach we had teams of four people working together at the same time for 30 minutes. In what I call the hybrid approach, we take those same four people, had them first work for 10 minutes, independently and in parallel and alone.
And then get together for 20 more minutes to work together to share what they found.
And what we found was that in the hybrid approach, those same four people generated about two and a half times more ideas than if they worked together. And those ideas were actually of better quality.
Now hopefully the analogy to the search on the island makes sense to you, which is that when you’re in a group, in a team setting working together, you all tend to converge on a single conversation, on a single thread, on a single pathway for exploration. But through the hybrid approach, each of you can independently and in parallel explore different territory, and then you can share that information in the second part of the hybrid process. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not anti-team or anti-group. The team is very important. The group work is very valuable. But there’s really no cost to spending just a few minutes, even as little as ten minutes, having each individual working independently and in parallel to explore unconstrained by the thoughts of others and then to share what you’ve found.
So in terms of the challenge of generating solution concepts, I recommend that you adopt this approach. Use the hybrid process. Use an individual exploration phase plus a group phase. In order to get people to actually deliver what you’ve asked them to do, it’s very useful to provide a numerical target for the individual phase. I like to ask people to generate ten ideas for whatever challenge that we’re facing.
And then a sad thing about many organizational settings is it’s hard to get people do their homework. It’s hard to get people to do the pre-work in advance of a meeting. So one way around that is to actually call the meeting, but then in the first ten minutes of the meeting simply have everyone work alone and independently before you start the discussion. But the key thing is that find you find a way to carve out a few minutes for everyone on your team to work independently and in parallel in order to reveal the most interesting and diverse set of solution concepts.

Jim Rohn Sứ mệnh khởi nghiệp