We believe in the creativity of the individual to come up with ideas. We believe in the power of the group to decide which ideas to progress. This is why.
When teams ideate, they often converge too early on one idea - this may not necessarily be the right idea. This too often happens because somebody on the team is especially pushy. We've all been in a brainstorming sessions where a manager pushes their idea on the team.
Breakthrough ideas require divergent thinking. Individuals working alone often come up with great ideas. Jonathan Courtney from AJ&Smart introduced me to a practice he called together, alone. When running a workshop you need to make time for people to work alone to frame their ideas. That's why we at GetReal include individual ideation exercises where individuals are given time to formulate solutions and present them to the team - they work alone but are together in their team.
In his 2004 book The Wisdom of Crowds James Surowiecki introduces his idea of wise crowds. To summarise, wise crowds are excellent at picking the best option from a range of options. GetReal use clever choreography to bring the group together to review everyone's contribution and decide which ideas should be explored further. To make your team a wise crowd you should ensure that the following five elements ground your workshop.
Diversity - everyone should bring their own information to the table
Independence - opinions should not be determined by trying to norm with the people around you
Decentralization - there are specialists in the room who can draw on local knowledge
Aggregation - a mechanism is agreed to turn individual ideas into a collective decision
Trust - everyone trusts the group to be fair.
It can be slightly weird working quietly alone in a group - the experience can be quite uncomfortable for workshop participants - this discomfort is quite helpful in creating creative focus. It always results in interesting ideas emerging. Your motivation for dealing with this discomfort is that it will result it better outcomes for your team and organisation.
Information is shared asymmetrically in your team. The sum of the knowledge in your team is greater than any individuals. More knowledge - more data - equates to better decision making.