I HATE BRAINSTORMING
Well, that’s a pretty radical thing to say—coming from someone who has the word “brainstorming” in her book title.
But really, the way brainstorming is generally practiced in corporations today, it often doesn’t do much positive good. And has the potential to do damage.
Brainstorming gets people together to put a lot a lot of ideas on the table. But ideas are a dime a dozen. It’s action that’s needed. But how?
BUSINESS STORMS AND BRAINSTORMING
We all know the drill. The rules for it have been around for decades: Go for quantity, not quality. Postpone judgment. Build on the ideas of others. Every person and idea has equal worth. Etc.
But few are brainstorming new ways to brainstorm.
And given the storms roiling businesses today, maybe it’s about time we added some new brainstorming techniques to our repertoire.
This graphic represents “the eye of the storm.” And isn’t that what we all need in business? Some calm place in the center of the turmoil we face every day.
What if there were new ways to brainstorm—and innovate—that create and use the power of the “eye of the storm” calm? But without having to go off to a mountaintop to meditate.
The functional MRI and other neuroscience research being done today is confirming what we’ve known for a long time about the innovation process:
First you focus on your problem. Then you walk away from it for awhile. Then later, when you are relaxed, say in the shower or on a walk or drive, an “aha!” insight pops into your head “out of the blue.” But it’s not just any idea. You know it’s the right answer you’ve been looking for. And that surety propels you into action.
It’s like an insight is an idea with action embedded in it.
A recent study at the University of London showed that researchers can identify when a subject is about to get the “aha!” answer to an insight problem. That’s because their brain goes into Alpha waves up to 8 seconds before that “aha!” hits. Alpha waves means your brain is in a state of focused relaxation.
But how in the world can we relax in today’s stormy business environment?
Well, I created techniques I now use with teams and individuals in corporations so they can innovate in the midst of business storms. And my approach is (gasp) easy, effortless and fun.
ABOUT BETSY BURROUGHS
She developed her unique innovation processes and techniques first to help her tap into what her clients knew that they were just too close to to be able to tell her.
Then she discovered that recent developments in neuroscience research explain how and why these processes and techniques work.
But it all started with her marketing and advertising background.
Betsy has marketed products ranging from Sun-Maid raisins, Zee paper towels and Purex to global software and semiconductor companies—working in account management at leading advertising agencies including Foote, Cone & Belding; D’Arcy-McManus Benton & Bowles; and TFB/BBDO. She has held sales and sales management positions at International Data Group (IDG) and CMP.
At both her own advertising agency and at her consultancy, her clients have included Google, Dwell Magazine, Gensler, Linguastat, The Discovery Channel, Rovi, Blurb, CNET Networks, Broadcasting & Cable Magazine, The Millennium Project, The Tech Museum of Innovation, Meritage Skin Care and Redken Haircare.
She has held vice president roles at a number of companies including InfoWorld, Satmetrix and co-working pioneer, Gate 3 WorkClub.
In addition, Betsy’s other background and experience has influenced her approach to innovation.
She has served on the board of the Waldzell Meeting, A Global Dialogue for Inspiration, held in Lower Austria from 2003 to 2008 and chaired by Fast Company’s co-founder, Alan Webber. Speakers there included architect Frank Gehry, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Warren Bennis, artists Christo and Jeanne Claude, authors Isabele Allende and Paulo Coehlo, many Nobel Prize winners and more.
She was a founding member of the San Francisco Board of Playworks.org, a national nonprofit that transforms recess for hundreds of thousands of elementary school children every day across the U.S. She also serves on the Advisory Boards for Linguastat, Inc. , a revolutionary semantic Web company, and The Luncheon Society and is a Fellow at Mmindd Labs.
Also in 2013 she was invited to be a speaker at TEDxLivermore where she took over 350 people through one of her FocusCatalyst Brainstorming Techniques during her 18 minute talk on “The Milky Way Brain: How To Get More Aha! Insights.”
She is the author of FOCUS. The Catalyst for Innovation. Guided Brainstorming for Innovators and founder of the FocusCatalyst Brainstorming Salon. The Salon has been held every first Thursday of the month in Betsy’s San Francisco South of Market loft since February, 2004.
She is a member of the World Future Society and a member of the Silicon Valley Node of the Millennium Project—a United Nations-affiliated think tank that produces the annual international State of the Future Report.
As Vice President of Marketing for InfoWorld, she created the InfoWorld Futures Project and recruited an Advisory Board for it that included some of the leading futurists and thinkers in the country including Paul Saffo, then Director, Institute for the Future; John Seely Brown, then Director of Xerox PARC; Jaron Lanier, considered the “Father of Virtual Reality;” best-selling author of Crossing the Chasm, Geoffrey Moore; and IDEO founder and co-founder and head of the Stanford d school, David Kelley and more.
Also at InfoWorld, she negotiated their sponsorship of Paramount Pictures’ $100 million Las Vegas Star Trek:The Experience attraction. She cites as one of her greatest thrills going on the set of Deep Space Nine—twice.
Betsy Burroughs is a graduate of the University of California at Davis with a BA degree in English.