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Tag Archives: brainstorming

Use Cunningham’s Law to stimulate creativity

So have you ever found yourself struggling to get your team to contribute ideas or offer creative input to a situation or problem? Every so often, I offer up ideas on this blog about how to creativity problem-solve by changing your frame of reference (for a pretty unique example of this approach see how city planners in Budapest creatively solved a difficult challenge). And today’s blog post is yet another way to do that – use Cunningham’s Law as a tool to stimulate creativity. So what is Cunningham’s Law? So glad you asked!

Ward Cunningham, the person who invented the first user-editable website (or wiki), is credited with making this statement in 1980’s:

CunninghamLawEssentially, human nature has a tendency to correct. Which is something that a savvy leader can use to stimulate conversation and motivate action. Continue reading

Use “reverse brainstorming” as a powerful way to improve service

If you lead a department that provides any sort of service, whether to external or internal clients, then service improvement should always be one of your goals. There is a very interesting technique known as “reverse brainstorming” that is particularly effective when it comes finding opportunities for service improvement. You’ve probably heard of regular brainstorming – the popular problem-solving tool used to generate creative solutions to a difficult issue. Reverse brainstorming is similar except that it asks the contrary or opposite questions. In regular brainstorming, you would define the problem, and then encourage people to come up with as many ideas as possible to solve it, from solidly practical ones to wildly impractical ones. In reverse brainstorming, you change the definition of the problem by posing two questions:

  1. Instead of asking “How do I solve or prevent this problem?”, ask “How could I possibly cause this problem?”
  2. Instead of asking “How do I achieve the results I want?”, ask “How could I possibly achieve the opposite effect?”

Then you take the same approach as you would with regular brainstorming, encouraging people to come up with as many ideas as possible, no idea is too conservative or too crazy.

Let me give you a recent example to show you how powerful this technique can be. Continue reading