A Collaboration Tool for Introverts
By Costa Michailidis
“Innovation is for a few ‘special’ people.”
“Creativity is innate. You either have it, or you don’t!”
Part of the work we do at Innovation Bound is bust myths like these, and one of our favorite myths, that has percolated more recently, is the notion that collaboration is bad for innovation, and that true breakthroughs are made solo. Why would the individual, group, or crowd be “the best medium for innovation?” Powerful innovations have resulted from all three of these, and context (the challenge at hand, available resources, et cetera) clearly plays a critical role. We dug a little deeper and came to an interesting challenge: How can groups have effective fair collaborations that are not dominated by strong personalities and extroverted behavior?
A Quiet Idea Generation Tool
The solution we’ve found most effective is an exercise called Brainwriting. It is a powerful way to quickly generate and build on one another’s ideas. Here’s how it’s done:
- Take a few sheets of paper and draw Tic-Tac-Toe grids on them, so that each sheet is divided up into nine boxes.
- Hand one of these sheets to each participant.
- Assuming you’ve already phrased a challenge for which to generate solutions, have each participant write out three ideas for solutions; one in each of the top three boxes.
- As participants finish, they can place their sheets in the center of the table, and take sheets other participants have placed in the center.
- With a new sheet in hand, top row filled out, participants should build on each of the three ideas in the top row, and write down the new ideas in the second row.
- Repeat this process until all nine boxes on all of the sheets are filled out.
If you need more ideas, you can use larger grids. Participants can build on each others ideas very directly, or just be “inspired by” the other ideas on the sheet. You can also do the exact same exercise on a Google Spreadsheet live online from different geographical locations.
Doing the work that we do has shown us time and time again that there is always a way to overcome obstacles, to tackle challenges, and to reach our goals. Don’t let common myths get in your way.
- The style of brainwriting described in our article is adapted from the original developed by Professor Bernd Rohrbach in 1968.
- We thank Bruce Campbell for his elegant sculpture: Untitled (Nervous System).