Effective ways to generate creative ideas in a group

In the book ‘How to fly a Horse’ Kevin Aston emphasis that to create a quality idea, one needs to work on it individually. I can’t agree more as I myself found individual research the best solution for a creative problem. Since. we all have different experiences in life, there are many factors that can contribute to idea generation; culture, experiences(both good and bad), stories etc. which every individual uniquely has. Lets say for example you put together a computer engineer, an architect, a finance student, a graphic designer and a business student, a perfect mix right? Absolutely no one has anything in common. A classic mix for an industry ready idea. What could go wrong? You put the group together, give them the problem and some time limit, as it’s normally done in group discussions. After the time limit is over you, excited to see the outcome, march over to the group and listen to their idea. But, much to your disappointment the idea generated isn’t good enough and lacks quality.

Now, lets understand what went wrong. Everyone, no matter their background starts with the same basic set of understanding and give the most common solutions first e.g. If you give a group a box full of nails, candle and ask them to make a candle stand, everyone will first come up with the obvious solutions first which in this case will be nailing the nails onto a wall and making the candle stand on top of it. After the basic idea is down, you improvise and make it more efficient but more importantly you have to reflect whether the idea generated is serving the required purpose,accessing its quality. This is a step by step process which goes on in an individuals head when given a problem. First, the visible solution, second is criticism and them improvisation. But what happens when you try to solve the same problem in a group?

Everyone gives it a try. They come up with the basic ideas and if anyone from the group come up with a seemingly better solution(which again roots up from their own experiences), everyone else either try and think like them or stop their own thinking process. One person cannot think in the way another person can, its a sure shot fail.

So then how can we work in a group to create highly implantable solutions/ideas? Well i found a few answers while pursuing my Masters course. Each studio I attended had there own carefully constructed deliverable, which were meant to be given through groups which comprised of individuals with different backgrounds. A few effective ways for creative idea generation through groups that i came up with after attending these studios are as follows :

Data analysis and gathering through group, followed by individual research :

In the first studio we were required to ceate an urban sonic environment to enhance human perception. We wre divided into groups of four and i was grouped with two audio engineers and an Industrial designer. In this approach we did not brain storm our ideas together. We went on our own ways with the materials, even though we gathered them together. This gave us the ability to work and develop our ideas in our own time frame respecting the deadline. We all started with the common solutions and then with each round of output had crtiticisms to enhance the output. This lead to a much more mature research and in the end we could combine all the ideas into one to give the optimal solution.

Grouping within the group :

Sometimes, in a group not everyone is a born enthusiast towards the project, hence, we end up having no input from the individual at all. To avoid such a situation its important to identify first and then combine them with a friend to has a drive. This will highly improve results, as the frustration of one person not producing result will reduce.

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