I recently read a thought-provoking article on the Harvard Business Review blog network about how to avoid groupthink while brainstorming. I am always interested in effective idea generation and problem solving techniques because we use a variety of these when developing mobile and web applications for China. While “classic” brainstorming can be effective, I have learned that it’s often best to identify the specific challenges your team faces and tweak this template accordingly.
Our team is made up of over 20 Chinese mobile and web application developers who have limited experience with brainstorming, at least when compared to the average American employee. While developers are usually great at problem solving and are often very creative, they can also be somewhat introverted. In China, we also face a unique challenge in that, while our staff understands the benefits of brainstorming and other creative problem solving techniques, they are fighting the current of decades of schooling that focused on individual rote learning rather than collaboration and creativity. They also struggle with how to effectively and safely contribute their ideas with a group of often very critical peers. While the root cause of these feelings may be unique, I’ve been in brainstorming sessions with enough groups to know that having critical team members is certainly not unique to teams in China, and doubting your own ideas plagues team members everywhere.
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