Years ago (probably 30) when I was working in Big Industry, a manager decided we needed to bring more creativity into our laboratory.  He introduced a form of approaching problems as a group known as Brainstorming.   Just in case you were lucky enough to never have to go through a Brainstorming session, I’ll review the concept.   You get the entire team in a room with a facilitator and everyone starts tossing out ideas, which the facilitator writes on the board.   The group in encouraged to use wild thinking and no criticism is allowed as the ideas are collected.  The phrase There are no bad ideas is a guideline.  The emphasis is on speed and quantity which supposedly unlocks creativity in the group.  I hated it.  Now I admit, I was pretty arrogant back them.  To me, the whole thing was proof that that there were in fact bad ideas … and and plenty of them.   I was also prone to whispering to my cohorts that some of the people in the room weren’t capable of a brain-squall, much less a brainstorm.

I’m older and less arrogant now and I suppose that brainstorming can lead to fresh ideas for such questions as How can we make our company a more enjoyable place to work, How can we work together better, or how can we give Suzie a better birthday party.   But our problems were highly technical, things like How can we identify an object using sound at long ranges?   There were people in the room, like managers and marketers, that were familiar with the problem (the quasi-experts mentioned in my post, Experts).   But there were only a few with the expertise to really come up with solutions.   So we’d sit there while wild ideas were written on the board with no criticism (out loud anyway), then we’d prune them down the list to the ones we wanted to apply.   What a surprise that those left came from the handful of experts in the room.  We’d spent hours in a process that yielded exactly wht we would have had if the experts had done it alone except that the experts were thoroughly exasperated.

Now if you follow the news, you can probably guess where I’m headed.   At the COVID-19 working group briefing yesterday, in the midst of briefing by the experts on the committee, our president threw out two suggestions that reminded me of those bad ideas on the whiteboard years ago.   He suggested that we should consider controlling the coronavirus by: 1) Ingesting — or otherwise inserting — a source of UV light into your body; and 2) Injecting a disinfectant into your body in order to perform a “cleaning” on your lungs**.  It’s almost as if he thinks he’s in a Brainstorming session where there are no bad ideas.  I don’t recall any brainstorming rules against dangerous ideas but if there aren’t there should be.   And of course, you don’t do brainstorming in front of a national audiences partly made up of people who believe you have (as Mr. Trump once said) a natural instinct for science.   This would be funny if it was a Saturday Night Live sketch … but as the real thing, it’s horrifying.   Isn’t there anyone in his administration with the huevos to say, Are you out of your mind, Mr. President?  Apparently not.  How sad for our country.

** Please, don’t tell me it’s fake news or that he was being sarcastic with the reporters.  I watched the video.

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2 Comments on “Brainstorming”

  1. barrythewiz Says:

    Amazing, isn’t it?

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