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Brainstorming isn't better online

There’s one question I have been asked hundreds of times over the course of my career in brainstorming:

“Can we do this remotely?”

My answer has not changed… No!

Even though technology offers us answers to increasingly more things in life, it will never replace our subconscious knowledge and the positive energy and chemistry that exists between human beings.

According to an article written by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic in the Harvard Business Review, online brainstorming is superior to face-to-face brainstorming for three reasons: it eliminates production blocking, increases feelings of anonymity, and boosts the diversity of ideas.

Production blocking

Although this term is new to me used in this context, it represents the process where dominant participants talk too much, taking over the session and eclipsing their colleagues.

Production blocking can be eliminated during in-person brainstorming sessions by putting a strong facilitator in charge of the session, and breaking the larger group down into smaller teams.

Feelings of anonymity

According to Chamorro-Premuzic, virtual brainstorming enables feelings of anonymity. I also understand this point, but you don’t have to hide behind a computer screen to obtain anonymity.

Breaking a large group into teams of five or six people will allow the entire team to work on their ideas together. The team as a whole then stands and presents all of their ideas, thus owning everything as a ‘tribe’ and achieving any desired personal anonymity.

Increased diversity of ideas

Chamorro-Premuzic believes that ‘if designed intelligently, virtual sessions can increase the diversity of ideas’. In my opinion, diversity of ideas is best achieved through the diversity of the guests in each of the smaller teams.

Always invite guests to your brainstorming session from different departments with different skill sets. There is no better tool in achieving diversity of ideas than fresh brains that approach the challenge with no pre-conceived beliefs.

As face to face anything becomes increasingly rare in this world, let’s enjoy these last vestiges of human interaction and fun!

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Brainstorming isn't better online