Organizational Development Consultant

Six Techniques to Brainstorm Ideas: #6 Breaking a Stalemate

May 12, 2014

“Sometimes when we need to be the most creative, my participants seem to be restricted by their assumptions. I need to find a way to help them challenge those assumptions so we can generate a new level of thinking and creativity. What do you suggest?”

6: Breaking a Stalemate

What is Breaking a Stalemate?

Breaking a Stalemate is a brainstorming technique designed to challenge the paradigms and assumptions of your participants that seem to get in the way of their creative energy.

Instead of brainstorming solutions to a stated question or problem like other brainstorming techniques, Breaking a Stalemate brainstorms the assumptions upon which a given issue, product, or service is based, and then brainstorms creative alternatives that challenge or overturn these assumptions.

Breaking a Stalemate demands that your group look at doing business outside the accepted norms of that business.

When Do I Use Breaking a Stalemate?

  • When your group is looking for a method to get ahead of the competition.
  • When your group is stuck in old ways of doing business and you are afraid that this thinking will hamper the group’s success in the future.

How Do I Use Breaking a Stalemate?

1. Introduce Breaking a Stalemate and why you are choosing to use the technique. You might say, for example: “As you know, our primary competition, X Corporation, is gaining on us fast. If we don’t come up with a new way of addressing this, we’ll lose significant market share. And to make matters worse, X Corporation is owned by a multinational that traditionally throws money at marketing as a method to capture more market share. We can’t win this battle fighting fire with fire, so let’s look for a more ingenious and creative way to compete.”

2. Have your participants brainstorm an exhaustive list of all assumptions that are accepted as common sense in their industry. For example: Corporation X will always be better at marketing than we are. Petroleum is needed to run the engines in our factories. We need to lay off people and cut costs to survive. Chart the group’s responses.

3. Brainstorm ways to overturn these assumptions.

4. Decide how best to proceed, usually in terms of research or other actions.

In Summary:

Breaking a Stalemate is a brainstorming technique designed to challenge the assumptions and paradigms that seem to restrict creative problem solving. It is different than other brainstorming techniques because it brainstorms the assumptions upon which a given issue, product, or service is based, and then brainstorms creative alternatives that challenge these assumptions.

1. Introduce Breaking a Stalemate and why you are choosing to use the technique.

2. Have your group brainstorm an exhaustive list of all assumptions that are accepted as common sense in their industry or profession. Chart the group’s responses.

3. Brainstorm ways to overturn or change these assumptions.

4. Decide how best to proceed, usually in terms of research or other actions.

Source:

Kenichi Ohmae, Mind of the Strategist: The Art of Japanese Business, McGraw Hill, 1982.

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