Many people get the new rules of creativity in the corporation. But there are still stubborn pockets of resistance. In the Wall Street Journal today, an astonishing essay that reveals that 8 errors continue to flourish.
Sandberg argues that a present article of faith is wrong, that in fact there IS such a thing as a bad idea.
Oh, how sad. Anyone who has done any brainstorming knows that you have to make all ideas welcome to discover the good ones. The happy news is that the bad ideas go away on their own. So it costs us nothing to play host to them for a moment.
Sandberg cites evidence to suggest that brain storming sessions sometimes induce a fatal self consciousness that stops ideas from happening. When well managed, creativity sessions are almost instaneously captivating.
Sandberg cites evident to suggest that brain storming can’t be scheduled and this too is wrong. In point of fact, brainstorming and explosive creativity can be made to happen almost anywhere…except of course at our better known, more politically orthodox universities.
A former dean of an engineering school argues that brainstorming sessions fail because someone always hijacks the proceedings. Nonsense. One might have to apply the device I first saw used by Denise Fonseca (of The Coca-Cola Company): hurling M&Ms at people who do not "play well with others." But eventually everyone gets it and it’s all in. (I have blogged about Fonseca here. Please use Fonseca as your search term. Sorry not to supply the link. I am away from home and using someone else’s computer under time constraint.)
Brainstorming takes the planning of a state dinner. Nonsense. Subscribe to a simple system or hire the Sterling Rice group in Colorado.
That brainstorming must sometimes devolve into blamestorming. Again, good ideas win the day. No coercion is called for. No blame is required. A brainstorm is a little network, in Weinberger’s wonderful phrase, "small pieces loosely joined." I turns out that new ideas are drawn to this net, they issue from its collective efforts, no individual wins much praise, no individual needs punishment or discouragement. Well constructed, these networks attract ideas and make them flourish.
People do better on their own than they do in brainstorming sessions. This is really daft. I like to think of myself as a pretty creative guy, but I am never more creative than when I am a small piece loosely joined with other small pieces in the generative circumstances of a brain storming group.
Professor Perkins, of the Harvard School of Graduate Education, says that group creativity is undertaken inspite of its inefficiency "because you want everyone to feel they have a voice."
I know the idea of faux inclusion and collaboration is now fashionable in some schools of education, but the corporation is generally better, and less patronizing, than this.
It is hard to imagine that an institution as smart at the WSJ should be capable of generating so many stupidities about brainstorming. And this at a time when the corporation is having to flourish in an innovation economy where creativity is the new name of the game.
But I guess this tells us that the corporate culture has yet to absorb the most important lessons here. What did Gibson say…that the future is here, it’s just badly distributed.
Sandberg, Jared. 2006. Brainstroming Works if People Scramble For Ideas on Their Own. Wall Street Journal. June 12, 2006, b1.