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Right brain is creative. Left brain is logical. Right? Not really according to a Scientific American article “The Real Neuroscience of Creativity.”
Creativity is more complex than that. Multiple scientists are investigating the creative process. Their findings are overturning conventional and overly simplistic notions surrounding the neuroscience of creativity.
Creativity uses more than one part of the brain. Depending on the task, your brain uses different portions of the brain.
A study by Rex Jung and colleagues suggests that when you want to loosen your associations, allow your mind to roam free, imagine new possibilities, and silence the inner critic.
If you want to boost creativity during brainstorming, rely upon science for clues:
Start in silence – Studies show that individuals are more creative than teams in both quality and quantity of ideas.
Have a focus – Display the issue or problem to help individuals and teams keep generating ideas on the right track. Creativity can easily side-track a discussion – so keep focused.
Combine with guidelines – After individual brainstorming, combine into teams. Teams are excellent at judging ideas. Therefore, have written guidelines to follow so that no young idea is sacrificed on a group’s alter to judgment.
No judgement – Individuals usually judge their own ideas as well as others’. Do not evaluate, compare, criticize or rank ideas. Accept every idea.
Quantity over quality – Participants should generate as many ideas as they can on their own. When teams come together it is time to build upon others’ ideas, combine ideas together. Crazy ideas are expected. I make teams present at least one “wild” idea.
No “killer” phrases – “Killer” phrases put ideas down, suck out energy, and stop progress. Groups know a killer phrase when they hear one! Examples of killer phrases – we tried it before, it will cost too much, that’s not how we do it here, it’s impossible, you may be right, but…. , I don’t think that’s important, our organization is too small (too big), stupid idea, where’d that come from?
Stick to idea generation – Don’t “crossover” to evaluation of ideas until every idea is shared, built upon, and expanded.
Use stimuli – I use photographs to ensure your non-verbal portion of the brain is stimulated.
Everyone participants – In all groups there are people who like to dominate the conversation. This is not productive for generating innovation solutions. Ensure that everyone participates and no individual takes over.
I recently used these guidelines to help a service company increase customer retention. They said they came up with ideas they wouldn’t have generated without my facilitation.
Need facilitation assistance for brainstorming? Want coaching to be more creative? Valerie.MacLeod@HainesCentre.com
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