ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

May 1999


Kid's Stuff

Quality On Trial: Achieving Success At A Law Firm

Baskin Robbins' Best Flavor

Kung Fu Theatre


Let's Go To The Oasis
by Peter Block


Sorry We're Closed: Diary Of A Shutdown

Brief Cases
Business News Briefs

Views for a Change

Book Review

The Quality Tool I Never Use

Sites Unseen


The Quality Tool I Never Use

Daniel Kaloski
Continuous Improvement Facilitator
United Space Alliance
Merritt Island, Fla.

Daniel Kaloski is currently employed with United Space Alliance at Kennedy Space Center as a communications technician and continuous improvement facilitator. Kaloski also serves on the board for the Space Coast Chapter of AQP and was the team leader for the 1997 Florida Sterling Region 3 Showcase winning team. He is currently pursuing an Organizational Behavior degree at Rollins College.

What is the tool that didn't work for you?
Although brainstorming is a widely used tool, it can limit group creativity. Brainstorming normally occurs in 3-12 member groups, in order to create ideas to search for tasks, root causes or solutions to a problem. The sessions are designed for the group to produce as many ideas as they can generate.

Why didn't it work or why is it useless?
The limitations of brainstorming appear in many applications and especially in the technology industry. A major problem is the higher percentage of introverts allowing the extroverts, and "controlling individuals,” to run the meeting. This results in low involvement of certain team members, thereby allowing the greater percentage of ideas from a core number of individuals. From a social psychological standpoint, the group has members engaging in social loafing, in other words, people don't work as hard in groups as they do when they work alone on the same task. Another issue is the lack of identification the individual group members receive from their generated ideas. People like to be acknowledged. In brainstorming sessions the members may experience group conformity, which may produce high levels of self-censorship, self-awareness and a concern of how ones ideas might appear to others. Finally, research has shown that if you take a group of four people in a brainstorming session, they will generate approximately 28 good ideas, although, when the individuals worked alone, they generated over 70 good ideas. In short, when you shout by yourself, you will shout louder than you would while in a group.

How would you fix the tool?
I would have the participants prepare their ideas prior to the meeting, turn them into the group leader and then have the group review the generated ideas. This enables input from everyone and the outspoken members’ ideas are not the majority of the ideas reviewed.

What words of counsel/warning would you give to someone else before they used the tool?
Just to be aware that group sessions may produce fewer results than the total generated by individuals working alone. Also, remember, brainstorming is just one of the many available quality tools we can use to generate a variety of great ideas and solutions. Finally, even though there are techniques to involve introverted individuals and control assertive behavior, it is many times just as easy and efficient to use alternative methods.

May '99 News for a Change | Email Editor
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