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Thoughts on ideas, brainstorming, facilitation, and crowdsourcing

Thoughts on ideas, brainstorming, facilitation, and crowdsourcing

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Published by: Crowdsourcing.org on Jun 05, 2011
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Posted on June 2, 2011 by matthewdbenson
ng an “idea” is a uniquely human thing.
It can be fun, beautiful, empowering,motivating, exciting, artistic, valuable. *Through personal reflection, brainstorming, facilitation and crowdsourcing ideascan be leveraged and improved upon, to the point that the outcome is far betterthan the initial idea.Ideas come from creative thinking, considering the previously unconsidered, often
referred to as „out
 box‟ thinking or „strategic‟ thinking (albeit strategy in
many businesses seems, disappointingly, often not to be that creative).I enjoy the creative process of originating and developing ideas, and so wanted topull together some thoughts on this.
Ideas can suddenly come from nowhere (that wonderful moment of “OMG I mustwrite that down”), at
any time of day, regardless of the activity that you areengaged in at the time. Alternatively, they can gradually develop from other senses(what you sea/read, hear, smell, taste, touch, feel, etc.).
Ideas are intangible. Alone they achieve little more than a good feeling, unless
„implemented‟ or „executed‟ (I find it funny that the concepts of executing ideas
and executing people are so diametrically
opposed …). Ideas can be forgotten,
vague, or confused. Recording the idea somehow, effectively making it moretangible, can be important to maintain its lifespan, but also to free it to evolve intonew, better ideas.Computers cannot (currently) develop ideas
they can be used as tools to supportthe idea creation process, but they not yet ever actually have an idea (if RayKurzweil
s view of a singularity moment arrives, where computers become„intelligent‟, and able to have ideas, it will be very interesting to see what happens
next).Tools and frameworks exist (in particular in business) to help ensure one thinkssufficiently broadly to come up with new ideas, perhaps away from a centraltheme, or commonly considered topics (albeit one has to be careful that tools andframeworks do
n‟t ultimately constrain thinking around pre
-prepared topics).Some find it helpful to have quiet time, to sit in silence, and reflect, contemplate,and generally think develop their thoughts on a topic. Some find it helpful to writethings down, use mind maps, or structure their ideas.One can position oneself to have better ideas, by reading/watching/listening othermaterials that can provoke idea generation (television shows, websites, podcasts,
etc.), or by „brainstorming‟ around a certain topic …
 I love brainstorming. It amplifies the positive characteristics of ideas (see * above).I love the initial messiness of it, and the subsequent job of then organizing,profiling, and prioritizing the results. I like the freedom to let creativity run wild,followed by the calm and controlled phase of harvesting the best bits.
„Brainstorming for one‟ can be fun, and creative – 
you have no-one elseto interrupt your thoughts, no-one else to distract you from your developing mindmap, allowing you to stray into new topics.
 Participating in a facilitated brainstorming group/team is however much more fun,and can also be a lot more productive, especially if there is some ultimate goal, orpurpose to the brainstorming. There is something exciting about watching ideasappear on a blank flip chart, as a group leverages the power of the team to createsomething likely beyond what any individual would alone have achieved, at leastin the same time.A heterogeneous group can create diverse ideas that any one might never havethought of - while the ideas are incepted by someone in the group, they can act assparks of creativity in a highly flammable creative environment.Together the group can challenge, or develop the ideas further, or maybe ignoringthe initial idea, come up with another connected/related idea, or even and ideawhich is largely unrelated to the first idea (other than that they would never havearrived at this point if not triggered by some thought that came out of the originalidea)T
he group can also stop individuals from going too far in the „wrong‟ direction,
where a certain goal exists. Brainstorming in a group can also give an element of validation to the idea generation, and can be motivational/empowering to allinvolved, through demonstrating that others are also passionate or engaged in thetopic and/or creative process.
 Unless you were a politician, radio station, or similar, crowdsourcing (leveragingthe benefit of insight and creativity from a much wider population) has historicallybeen somewhat difficult to achieve.
Recent technological developments, in particular „Web 2.0′, change all of that.
Social networks, forums, online databases, etc. (either in wide areanetwork/internet, or on some form of local network/intranet) create a collaborativediscussion opportunity.

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