Since we just created a category of posts under the label “Ideas” to spur creativity in our mission, it is important to offer a few guidelines for how to interact with these ideas.
An earlier post talked about why we are doing this, but let me summarize two key reasons:
1. To encourage better, more creative ideas for our mission.
2. To foster one of our core values–the participation of the whole family in mission.
These two goals are much more likely to be achieved if the conversation surrounding our ideas is cooperative. That doesn’t mean that we make up stuff to say even if we don’t like an idea. Instead, it means that we think in the same direction at the same time.
Dr. Edward de Bono developed an approach called the Six Thinking Hats. In a brainstorming session, everyone on the team wears the same hat at the same time (except the facilitator, if you have one). Everyone thinks in the same direction to minimize distraction, conflict, and confusion. Here are the hats:
Green Hat: Generating new ideas through creative, out of the box thinking.
White Hat: Identifying everything that we know or need to know about the situation.
Red Hat: Responding intuitively or even emotionally without over-analyzing.
Yellow Hat: Applying critical judgment to identify ways in which the idea could work.
Black Hat: Applying critical judgment to identify ways in which the idea could fail.
Blue Hat: Facilitating the group thinking process.
Here’s an example of unproductive group brainstorming conversation, as seen through the lens of the Six Thinking Hats:
Green Hat: “What if we hosted a block party next month?”
Black Hat: “We don’t have a permit to do that.”
White Hat: “How many grills do we have at our disposal?”
Yellow Hat: “We could get name tags to help us get to know more people.”
Red Hat: “I’m nervous about having a large group in our front yard.”
Blue Hat: “We should just vote on this to see if enough people want to do it.”
Six people trying to think together, but all of them in different directions. Replace “block party” with some other idea, and this is basically a script for lots of conversations I’ve participated in.
So allow me to put on the Blue Hat and suggest a method for us. A post in the “Ideas” category will be a Green Hat statement, a new idea that probably came up spontaneously but has enough merit to be considered (or at least not immediately forgotten). The White, Red, and Yellow Hats will be the most effective tools for early comments. What’s our gut-level response? What do we need to find out? What could the idea accomplish? Later in the conversation, if it seems like we’re moving from dreaming to planning, the Black Hat will need to be put on to consider obstacles and dangers we’ll need to avoid.
Brainstorming through threaded comments won’t be neat and tidy, so don’t get overly concerned about “What hat am I supposed to be wearing?” The point is to have a little awareness about productive group process so that more ideas will be produced and developed into amazing ideas that become energizing plans of action.
Some questions for you:
What hat fits you most comfortably / least comfortably?
Does the conversation I made up sound familiar?
5 thoughts on “Brainstorming Online”
I’ll answer my own questions first, to get the ball rolling. I like the green hat a lot. It fits comfortably, and I don’t usually like taking it off. The danger for me is that sometimes just thinking of a neat idea is more satisfying than actually doing it. The white hat doesn’t fit so well. Feels tedious to me, but has gotten easier to wear as I have become more responsible in life.
To the second question… yes, this sounds almost exactly like group brainstorming I have been subjected to. Especially if you imagine the conversation going exactly as written–six people taking turns saying those exact lines and thinking they are a response to what the person before them said.
God has given me the gift of encouragement (call me “Barney” for short), but, unfortunately I find myself donning the black hat way too often. My lovely bride has said, “I launch the balloons, and you shoot them down.” The yellow hat should fit perfectly. I pray I will wear it regularly in the future…As far as the conversation sounding familiar? YES! (I was the pastor of an older, traditional church for 16 years). How often I left a Deacon’s meeting dissapointed and discouraged because of just one comment turning the tide of a discussion and subsequent decision.
Wow…I got a little lost in all of the hats. Sorry…I must not be focused enough. 🙂
I went down to the RiverBender Center on Wed. afternoon to check it out. This is located at the old First National Bank on Third St. in downtown Alton. I will add a link to it for you to check out. Anyway I had been thinking about going here to volunteer. I think that this could be an opportunity for us to be involved in an outreach program that involves youth. I think I am going to try and start going once a month and see how it goes. If it is something that interest you i know they could use the help. If nothing else your prayer. http://www.riverbender.com/communitycenter/
Jackie and I volunteered as chaperones one night many moons ago. It was a middle-school party. LOTS of kids, including Star. We would be happy to talk with you, Mike, about our experience.