Custom IT Research? Brainstorm! Part 2

Are you able to tap into your creative side and brainstorm or is fear holding you back?

In March I discussed the December 2012 Harvard Business Review (HBR) article “Reclaim Your Creative Confidence” written by Tom Kelley and David Kelley. Tom and David remind us that as children, we are able to show unabashed creativity, free from concern about what others think of our efforts. It’s the perfect state for a brainstorm.

Yet, by the time of our adolescence, we care so much about how peers and others view us that our creative side shrinks, dominated by conformity and the desire for acceptance.

Conformity and the desire for acceptance are the antithesis of the creative energy you will need for a successful brainstorm. Why should you care? Because the brainstorm is a critical part of performing successful research.

According to Tom and David, four self-limiting fears act to rob us of creative confidence. I discussed the first two fears, “Fear of the Messy Unknown” and “Fear of Being Judged” in the earlier post. This time around, I’ll look at the remaining two, “Fear of the First Step” and “Fear of Losing Control”. Let’s have a look.

Fear of the First Step

the white bullBullfighting aficionado and novelist Ernest Hemingway spoke of facing the “white bull”, for him, a blank sheet of paper. This is one aspect of fearing the first step. The HBR authors point out that It’s not so different when  you start a new project. I can tell you that it is the same for a first attempt to use new technology. OK, so how do you conquer this fear?

Just Do It. In other words, break out of analysis paralysis and get started. Julius Caesar and the Roman Legions followed the “divide and conquer” approach to winning foreign wars and subjugating nations. Let’s agree to leave aside the issue of whether such conquest was justified, and look at dividing, and conquering. Basically, you bite off a small piece of the problem set and solve it. Then repeat, until it’s “problem solved”.

custom IT researchThe HBR authors suggest you take the simplest and most straightforward path to make progress toward your goal. I’d tell you to use thought experiments as an effective approach to progress through simplicity. Have a look at these thought experiment videos on Brain Pickings. They are worth watching. Did you watch them? If so, you are already breaking your fear of the first step!




Fear of Losing Control

brainstorm sessionNo, the HBR authors don’t mean freaking out! They meant fear of losing control of your idea by introducing it into a group brainstorming situation. All of a sudden your concept is not your baby any more. Yet, the collective power of collegial thought may give you the breakthrough thinking your idea needs to succeed. The authors point out that sometimes you don’t have all the answers. Don’t use that as an excuse for becoming paralyzed!

One advantage of a brainstorm session with a multinational team is your ability to gain insights and perspectives that your own life experience has not included.

Why not open up the floodgates of thought, and let the power of your colleagues’ minds enhance your thinking? If your answer is that you are afraid of the outcome, don’t be. The best is about to happen for you and your idea.

The Bottom Line

When we work with you and your team to focus a custom research effort, develop a blog series, or create a white paper, we will ask you to set aside your fears and brainstorm. We’ve learned that it is the most effective way to ask questions and find answers. Embrace the opportunity to try something new. Hey, it works. Now that you know this, why wait? Contact us, and let’s get started!


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