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Better Brainstorming: An Alien Idea

Brainstorming is a great tool for generating large quantities of ideas quickly, whether it’s a bunch of guys at the bellied up to the bar speculating on the World Series, or mystical creative types clad in black thinking up an expensive name for a watch.

But it doesn’t work all the time. The majority can overrule the quirky minority. There’s the rush to judgment, self congratulations, and the urge to put the problem to rest. Depending on the importance of your idea, this can be dangerous, indeed.

Maybe there’s an antidote breaks down group think. We hypothesize that using SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) and parallel computing as a model may provide an alternative.

Every day, Seti taps a network of hundreds of thousands of personal computers linked by the internet. These computers crunch data, and send the results back to Seti’s Super Computer.

So what happens if thinking and creating are distributed?

  • More people from more walks of life and cultures can be tapped via the internet.
  • Experience within a creative culture, e.g. an advertising agency is downplayed.
  • We would expect more solutions faster.
  • Everyone doesn’t need to receive the same data input.
  • People can be assigned to explore risky directions.

In this scenario, quantity of solutions becomes the focus. Participants should be paid based on the number of their contributions versus their quality. Meanwhile, back at the home office,
the work becomes more editorial.

What works, what doesn’t, what’s practical? And, it’s very possible that the modality of thinking reverts back to conventional brainstorming. It’s the best of both worlds!

Your first task is to build the network. The people who are outside your field, may very well be, the most valuable. And don’t forget mom!

Great ideas can come from anyplace, even outer space. Let’s experiment with casting a wider net.

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