The Next Evolution of Brainstorming

I’m quite fond of getting people together to solve problems. As part of my work, I gather employees and constituents for focus groups and brainstorming sessions all the time. But a new article in Fast Company has made me rethink the old process of brainstorming altogether in exchange for a newer, fresher concept: divergence and convergence.

The author of the article, Art Markman, explains that the old concept of getting everyone in a room to throw ideas out until something sticks is not only outdated, but it might be even less productive than previously thought. He cites that the largest narcissists and outspoken members of the groups are usually the ones heard the most, leaving the brilliance of introverted or those who didn’t have an immediate idea left in the cold. He suggests a concept of divergence, where the group goes away to ruminate and generate solutions on the problem in solitude first, then convergence, where they come together with all the preconceived solutions before picking the ideas that rise to the top.

The article goes into more depth into other wrecking balls around brainstorming and idea sharing, and it’s worth a read.

Markman’s article and concept both make loads of sense once you stop to think about it, and it’s just the kind of innovative solution that HR needs to employ across the board right now. The rise of Millennials in our culture and more respect for introversion and the autism spectrum makes this a right-on-time solution. Rather than forcing people to generate brilliance in an environment that might not support everyone’s work styles for idea creation, give everyone a chance to create in the manner that suits them best, and then ensure all the creativity is heard. It’s quite brilliant.

The need for HR managers to think outside the box is constant, and we must always seek solutions that solve the problems of today and tomorrow with newer, fresher approaches and concepts. I hope you’ll share this concept or even try it on your own, and I would be delighted to help you innovate and apply such fresh approaches to your own businesses.

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