Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Performance Improvement Tip of the Day: Better Brainstorming

In the performance improvement world, we rely often on "brainstorming" as a proven strategy for generating ideas about how to overcome barriers, gaps in care, and general problem solving.  A thought-provoking piece in Fast Company Design about how the brainstorming process works - or doesn't work - made me think about  how we can improve our use of this technique.

The article points out the following principles which may help us brainstorm better:

  • need some individual time, and some group time to generate ideas
  • group dynamics tend to inhibit some creativity, but the prospect of criticism also improves the quality of ideas 
  • good ideas usually come about as a solution to a readily identified problem
  • the most productive groups were those with a baseline of familiarity but just enough fresh blood to make things interesting
  • physical proximity of group members helps to encourage "serendipitous" conversations and discoveries
For performance improvement personnel, here are some thoughts on how to apply these principles:
  • have the group brainstorm problems first, before identifying solutions
  • encourage individuals to think independently about solutions before embarking on the "group discussion"
  • plan ways for the performance improvement team to informally network with each other in order to stimulate the "accidental discovery of ideas", e.g., dinner, bagged lunch, social hour, etc.
  • ensure that there is a healthy mix of experts and novices in the team 

1 comment:

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