Creative problem-solving is one of the most valued skills in modern workplaces.

You may think of creativity as an individual trait. The conventional understanding is that some people are naturally creative thinkers and others are not. 

In many organizations, some people become earmarked as creative individuals. They have a tendency for coming up with great ideas and innovative solutions to problems. Soon they become the go-to people for all the creative thinking in the organization. 

And it falls on others to try and convert their ideas into reality. 

The foundational principle of this approach is that creativity and innovation are intrinsic talents. 

However, at Harappa, we believe creative thinking and innovative problem-solving are skills that can be honed through practice. The Unleashing Creativity course has concepts and tools such as Design Thinking and the FFOE model to help learners boost their creative problem-solving skills.

Modern workplaces are characterized by collaboration between different teams, departments, and in some cases, different organizations too! 

It isn’t enough that individuals think creatively. Teams must be able to generate out-of-the-box ideas and creative solutions too.

Generating creative ideas as a group can be one of the most challenging tasks in the workplace. After all, how can one motivate a team to tackle the issue as a collective? And how does one channel individual creativity into group creativity? 

For group creativity to work, everyone must be encouraged to speak up and share their ideas. 

This is where Brainstorming as a concept comes in.

Brainstorming: generating ideas in groups

You may be familiar with this technique. Brainstorming was popularized by the legendary advertising executive Alex F. Osborn in the 1940s as a technique to generate creative and out-of-the-box solutions when working in a group. 

Osborn landed upon the idea when he realized that his colleagues were unable to come up with interesting ideas for ad campaigns when they worked individually. He began hosting group-thinking sessions and saw a marked improvement in the ideas they yielded. 

This process became known as “brainstorming” as the brain was being used to “storm” or attack a problem collectively. 

Osborn’s reasoning was that creative thinking in groups generates more ideas and builds collective enthusiasm for the project.

And for a while, it worked! Brainstorming took the corporate world by storm as numerous companies across the globe began to incorporate it into their day-to-day functioning. 

To put it simply, brainstorming involves getting numerous people in one room to toss around ideas with little to no filters on the type of ideas they came up with. Employees were encouraged to dismiss any restrictions that would have impeded their creative processes, such as budget, time, and even feasibility. 

But as time went on, people began to realize the drawbacks of this nifty tool. 

In many cases, the stronger personalities in the room would dominate the brainstorming discussion and end up doing all the ideating. It was also found that junior members of the team tended to be reluctant to share their ideas for fear of looking silly. Power dynamics influenced people's responses to the ideas, with many preferring to voice appreciation for their boss’ ideas even when they disagreed with them. 

All of these issues seemed to consign Brainstorming to the list of failed creative thinking techniques. 

But luckily, there was a creative workaround to this problem, and the technique of brainstorming was updated to deal with all of these teething issues. This is how the method of Brainwriting was born!

Brainwriting: a more effective way of brainstorming ideas

The idea behind brainwriting is simple. As the name suggests, instead of saying one’s ideas out loud in a group, each person writes down their creative ideas on cards. Once everyone has finished, the cards are posted on a wall or randomly arranged on a table. 

The group discusses each of these ideas one by one. 

In brainwriting, everybody’s voice is equally represented in the idea pool. Since nobody knows who wrote down which idea, each of the ideas is evaluated on its merits. Everybody in the group feels heard, irrespective of their personality or position in the company. 

Brainwriting reduces biased thinking and fosters a more collaborative, participatory and indeed, creative atmosphere at the workplace.  

Creative thinking in groups is essential in any modern workplace. If you are eager to learn more techniques for building your team’s creativity and creating a collaborative atmosphere where everyone feels heard, check out Harappa Education’s online course on Unleashing Creativity. Sign up today to ensure that your team stays ahead of the curve, creatively and professionally. 

Shubhayan is an Associate Specialist in the Curriculum Team. A graduate of the Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts, Shubhayan enjoys laughing at his own jokes and playing the bass guitar.

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