Time to think inside the box

April 2, 2010

We’ve all been there, haven’t we! Nothing like a brainstorming* session to get the creative juices flowing. Or perhaps not. Some clever dicks from Texas A&M University (pay attention, A&M, not M&M) have discovered that brainstorming exercises can lead to people locking onto a single idea, to the exclusion of others. So that’s everyone getting fixated on that mad caffeine fuelled thought that seemed like a good idea at the time. It’s a bit like mirroring someone’s body language, except this time mirroring their thoughts. So what to do? Sit quietly by yourself and have your own personal creative session and then share your ideas at a meeting. That’s what. Also be conscious of the fixation problem and take steps to prevent it. As in, “I think you’re getting a bit fixated there Bob. Time to spit out the dummy and tell us what you really think”. But, thankfully, the same bit of research underlines the importance of allowing for a ‘mental incubation’ period. Thank goodness, it’s what made Britain great. The tea break.

You’ll find an abstract of the research at: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/123329584/abstract

*Footnote: Apparently it’s un-PC to talk of ‘brainstorming’ as it can upset people who have brain problems. Some Government departments have been told to use the expression ‘thought-showers’ instead. Interestingly the Campaign for Plain English have branded this (words to the effect of) loopy. Obviously they cannot describe it as ‘loopy’ as this would annoy those who have trouble with their loops.


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