Did you know that the concept of brainstorming as we know it today was invented nearly 70 years ago? This was right around the time when Roosevelt was President and gas cost 10-cents a gallon. Interestingly, while technology has advanced dramatically, the brainstorming process hasn’t changed much since then.
Invite most 21st-century professionals to participate in a brainstorming session, and they’re likely to run for the door. And it’s no wonder. The typical brainstorm is long, tedious, poorly facilitated, often intimidating and even contentious. And the results are often disappointing, as well. Even when a few decent ideas are generated, they rarely end up seeing the light of day.
Two marketing communications professionals from New York City are changing all that, with a totally new approach to brainstorming they call SmartStorming: Advanced Training in Innovative Thinking. I’ve had the opportunity to connect with the creators of SmartStorming and talk to them about this cutting edge technology in how we think and create new ideas. They’ve reinvented the concept of brainstorming so that it can be done in a more of a systematic, organized process that yields are measurable R.O.I.
“We all know innovative thinking is critical for success, today more than ever. We call it the ‘Innovation Imperative,’” says Mitchell Rigie, co-creator of SmartStorming. “The difference between surviving and thriving, today and in the foreseeable future, is going to depend on how fresh and unique a company’s thinking will be.”
Traditional brainstorming is still one of the most widely-used tools for generating ideas. Every day tens of thousands of brainstorms are held around the world.
It seems that the technology behind brainstorming has now evolved into something more powerful. “Brainstorming is a fundamentally flawed process,” says Keith Harmeyer, Rigie’s partner and co-creator of SmartStorming. “For years we sat through hundreds, maybe thousands of unproductive brainstorms. And finally we asked ourselves, ‘How can we do this better?’”
Based on their own experience and extensive research, Rigie and Harmeyer developed a turnkey system that addresses each of the key weaknesses of traditional brainstorming. The result is a thorough six-step process that takes users from pre-planning, through the idea-generation phase to follow-through and next steps.
“Consider the cost to an organization of a typical brainstorm session. Six or eight or even more people, sitting in a room for an hour or more. Then multiply that by the number of sessions held over the course of a year. And with what return? It’s staggering. Plus the negative impact on employee morale is enormous. SmartStorming delivers tangible benefits to the organization, managers and participants,” said Harmeyer.
At the core of SmartStorming is 3-D Ideationsm, a proprietary technique that breaks idea-generation into three parts, resulting in a significantly great yield of fresh, innovative ideas.
“3-D Ideation makes it possible for groups to think beyond their limiting assumptions about a challenge; what most people refer to as ‘thinking outside the box.’ They then view the challenge from a number of different viewpoints, to gain a broader perspective. And finally, they free associate, using a variety of ideation techniques we provide,” said Rigie.