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Brainstalling – The Few vs. The Many

September 8, 2010 Leave a comment

There’s a great book by Richard Wiseman, (also a magician…), called “59 Seconds – Think a little, Change a lot”. It looks at “common sense” approached to such topics as Happiness, Persuasion, Creativity, and Motivation. It is full of ideas, concepts and example that any Instructional Designer can pick up and use in terms of course creation or for making courses more interesting.

The chapter on Creativity starts by looking at the “myth of Brainstorming” – i.e. many studies actually show that people are less creative in groups than they are individually. Very basically, having others around you sometimes provides a crutch to lean on, and reduce creativity rather than provide a source of motivation.

It may already have a name, but I have decided to christen this effect “Brainstalling“.
Having looked at many examples of social psychology, this does not surprise me, social psychology experiments are littered with examples of this.

I spent a few wonderful days working with Tony Buzan in the 1990’s (the inventor of Mindmapping), I love the technique, although many people misunderstand how Tony’s techniques should be used. Like Al Schneider’s original “Matrix” effect in magic, done well, the original cannot be beaten for beauty and elegance.

It occurred to me that these concepts, and the Articulate Suite could all be drawn together. Let’s assume a scenario where a Team Leader or manager wants 5 people to contribute to an idea.

1> Get the team to use some free (?) Mindmapping software (sorry Tony!), and create their map(s) for whatever concept is being discussed individually.
2> Save each in .jpeg format.
3> Have each .jpeg form the basis of an Articulate Engage Labelled Graphic interaction. The Team Leader can then comment in text, or with audio on various points of each set of ideas.

The various Marker Style and Colour functionality could be used to highlight certain things, (green for “I like that”, Purple for “I like that but needs more investigation or explanation”, and Red for “No” or something similar…

Engage Labelled Graphic

Perhaps the Engage interactions can be pulled into an Articulate course, with each personal contribution forming a Chapter for easy use?

The bottom line – try to use the tools to complete lots of visual and interactive “pre-work” in advance of any meeting. This will get the most out of individual creativity and allow for the benefits of team sharing. I’m sure there are a number of directions this could be taken, and I’d love to have your comments and thoughts.

“A Mind Map accurately reflects the self. You are far less likely to make decisions which go against your nature, needs and desires”.- Tony Buzan

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