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Meetings auf Englisch - Brainstorming: Katalysator oder Zeituerschwendung?

Schlagwörter: Meeting auf Englisch, Meetings auf Englisch, Englisch Meeting, Konferenz auf Englisch, Englisch Konferenz, Besprechung auf Englisch, Englisch Besprechung, Englisch Brainstorming

Are you facing a problem with no clear answer? Is your business looking for a new approach for something, but the only suggestions are the same old ideas that haue already been tried or dismissed? Brainstorming may be the solution, but beware: the brainstorming process most people envision - with a group of people sitting around a table forging new solutions to intractable problems - has a greater chance of wasting time than of leading to success!

Brainstorming's infancy

The process of brainstorming was first identified, specified and promoted in the late 1930s by Alex Faickney Osborn. In his book Applied Imagination: Principles and procedures of creative problem solving, Osborn proposed a process that would allow groups to double their creative output. Key to this innovative process - which he named brainstorming - was the use of techniques designed to help groups of people explore an idea or an issue in its entirety, and then to start exploring beyond accepted boundaries to identify previously unknown potential.

His idea was compelling. In the following decades, Osborne's brainstorming technique enjoyed quick acceptance in both the educational and business communities as a way of enhancing the learning process, furthering research efforts and maximising business opportunities.

How it works

A productive brainstorming session is run like a formal meeting, with a chair and a secretary. The problem or topic is announced. Participants are encouraged to contribute to the interactive idea development process and the secretary captures the main points of what has been said or decided.

Here are the rules:

  • Select participants from all possible
    business functions that touch on the
    problem to be brainstormed.

  • Seat the group so that all participants
    can see each other.

  • Define the topic clearly for everyone

  • Define the goal to be reached by the
    end of the session - for example, eve
    ryone should have contributed three

  • Encourage participants to develop as
    many ideas as possible, whether logi
    cal and practical or completely off the
    wall. Ensure the "quieter" participants
    are actively involved.

  • Create an atmosphere of openness
    where no criticism is allowed. The first
    goal is to get as many ideas on the ta
    ble as possible. Finding out which ones
    make sense is a later step. No idea is
    too zany! Foster free association and

  • Guide the group into exploring or de
    veloping ideas that have been thrown
    out for discussion. This activity can
    lead in unpredictable directions that
    reveal even better ideas.

The less structure the session has, the more creativity will appear. Participants will even make jokes. Laughter at suggestions that have been proposed sarcastically is not uncommon. People should have fun - that's part of the process.

It's also part of the risk. Recent studies have led experts to the resounding conclusion that group brainstorming sessions are usually no more productive than asking a single individual to brainstorm. They take longer. A significant amount of time is lost on fun and silliness. Yes, good ideas may arise, but the risk is clear: if the result of 10 people sitting in a room for 3 hours (30 person-hours) is no better than the cost of one person for three hours (3 person-hours), the cost of group brainstorming is hard to justify.

The answer is that this risk must be controlled, and that's the job of the chair. Here are a few tips for doing this:

  • Keep the session focused on the
    problem at all times. With all the fun
    going on, it's easy to digress. When
    the group begins exploring unrelated di
    gressions, significant time can be lost.

  • Put the kibosh on any arguments
    about the pertinence and validity of an
    idea. There should be no assignment
    of value or credibility. The goal is to
    first identify all ideas, and then explore
    their feasibility.

  • Avoid allowing any train of thought to
    be followed for too long. The goal is a
    high-level and wide exploration, not a
    narrow and deep analysis. In any brain-
    storming session, there are always
    those who prefer to go high and wide
    (these tend to be the marketing and
    management types) and those who
    like to go narrow and deep (the techni
    cal types).

  • Assemble all of the ideas, and then
    lead participants as a group to catego
    rise and evaluate each idea's potential.

Pros and cons

The benefits of brainstorming in a group are attractive. The most important, perhaps, is that the idea development process takes place leveraging the knowledge and experience of a team coming from many different backgrounds. The ability to start with someone else's idea and develop it into another idea also creates a highly dynamic atmosphere that has a greater chance of leading to the desired goal. When one member of the group reaches his limit on a certain idea, another member may be able to take it up and continue the exploration.

The group format, however, presents numerous challenges that have a great chance of resulting in an ineffective session:

  • Participants may feel intimidated to
    offer ideas, fearing the criticism of

  • Seemingly stupid ideas that may be
    relevant may never be aired.

  • Less-creative participants may exhibit
    idea-killing behaviour and use what are
    known as "killer phrases". Such behav
    iour destroys the creativity of other
    participants and often leaves people
    feeling humiliated.

  • The number of people involved and the
    time it takes them to speak clearly
    reduces the amount of time available
    for covering new ideas. The mixed
    nature of the participants practically
    ensures that ideas will be explored in
    more depth than is really necessary.
    This issue is a traditional struggling
    point for the chair.

On the other side of the coin, individual brainstorming allows one person to identify a wide range of ideas without the negative (or positive) influences of others. The brainstormer need not worry about stupid ideas, injuring egos, getting involved in corporate politics and the like. But the individual cannot leverage the experience of the many.

Killer phrases

Killer Phrase - 1. a knee-jerk response that squelches new ideas; most commonly uttered by a boss, colleague, teacher or parent. 2. a threat to innovation.

In business meetings where ideas are shared, the use of killer phrases is commonplace. Masquerading as valid objections, these phrases are actually insidious to corporate progress - and for good reason: they're designed to stop change. In any group of people, there are usually a few who do not want, welcome or accept change. Change makes people feel insecure. Because change develops from ideas, the best way to prevent it is to stop ideas from developing into realities. Because ideas are on the rampant fly during a brainstorming session, this is where killer phrases are frequently used.

Normally, the killer phrases used by any specific team can be counted on two hands. Here are a few that work almost anywhere. Be careful of using them yourself, and consider using their alternatives instead:

The power of the killer phrase

In 1962, Decca Records turned down the opportunity to sign with the Beatles. Someone internally had used the following killer phrase to make management feel as if the Beatles were part of a dying trend:

Groups with guitars are on their way out.


If you feel a killer phrase has damaged progress, try using this bit of sarcasm to get things back on track:

That's a good point. Well, then, let's do nothing.

Schlagwörter: Meeting auf Englisch, Meetings auf Englisch, Englisch Meeting, Konferenz auf Englisch, Englisch Konferenz, Besprechung auf Englisch, Englisch Besprechung, Englisch Brainstorming

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