|Computer-Assisted Brainstorming and the Global Think Tank|
Robert L. A. Trost, Idea Management Consultant, CCI Ltd.
The origin of Computer-Assisted Brainstorming (CAB)
The field of Computer-Assisted Brainstorming (CAB) is still relatively young. It all started in 1984 with the Master of Science thesis “Computer-Assisted Creativity and the Policy Process.” written by Seth Hollander, then a student at the Thayer School of Engineering of Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, U.S.A.
In his thesis, Hollander envisaged “an interactive computer program designed to enhance creative thinking.” Just one year later, in 1985, such a program, “The Idea Generator,” for which Hollander’s thesis served as a blueprint, appeared on the market.
The advantages of CAB
CAB programs don’t just enhance creative thinking because of their built-in Creativity techniques, they also offer a well-defined, goal-oriented structure.
This structure is basically as follows:
Furthermore, significant time gains are achieved. It is not necessary to attend courses in Creativity or Creative Problem Solving (CPS) or even to read books on these subjects, for in every genuine CAB-program one or more Creativity techniques are used. Moreover, they are employed in such a way that they enable the user to apply them instantly, thus acquiring “Instant Creativity”!
Since the computer takes the initiative by asking questions, the much-dreaded “Mental Blocks” are removed right away, so that the user does not lose time in idle procrastination.
As the computer urges the user to go on, the incubation time for new ideas and creative problem solutions tends to become much shorter than usual, so that more ideas are produced in a shorter time span. Since, in the world of Creativity, quantity usually means quality, higher quality ideas are likely to emerge in a CAB-session.
The computer also takes care of all note-taking and reporting, thus freeing the user from these mundane and often time-consuming tasks. Another important plus point of CAB is that “solo brainstorming” is possible, in which the user can brainstorm alone, using the computer as a partner and “mind mirror.” No ego trips are involved, since the only ego present at a solitary CAB-session is the user’s own. Disruption of brainstorming sessions by ego trips of dominant, ego-wielding participants is thus effectively prevented.
Finally, every CAB program worth its salt produces so- called “workfiles” that not only enable the user to stop and resume a brainstorming session at any time and place, but that also permit asynchronous brainstorming between individuals.
Asynchronous brainstorming is fundamentally different from the usual, synchronous group brainstorming, because the participants don’t have to be physically present at a certain place and time, but can brainstorm individually and interactively with the computer at times and places that suit them. For the first time in the history of creative thinking, asynchronous brainstorming has become possible through the use and electronic transfer of CAB workfiles. This truly revolutionary development also forms the basis of the Global Think Tank.
What is the Global Think Tank (GTT)?
The GTT consists of a group of creative, well-trained generalists from all over the world, living in such diverse countries as Russia and the U.S.A., who:
How did the GTT come about?
The GTT has been made possible by:
How does the GTT operate?
A GTT project consists of one or more ROUNDS. Each round in its turn consists of a number of individual SESSIONS. Let us see how this works.
The Operation BrainStorm program produces a so-called “workfile,” in which everything that has been done in a brainstorming session is saved for future use, namely when one wants to continue that particular session. It is this workfile that can be exchanged with another person, using a disk or electronic mail, no matter where that person happens to live. Since OBS keeps this workfile as small as possible, it can be transferred quite swiftly and there- fore inexpensively.
Suppose a company has a problem for which it seeks fast, creative, multicultural solutions. It might then want to contact a GTT Project Leader (one of the GTT participants who will handle that company’s problem as a GTT PROJECT). This Project Leader, who will act as a GTT coordinator, will prepare an OBS workfile, containing that company’s problem and goal, then email this workfile to the first participant, who will spend 1-2 hours (which is called a SESSION) adding ideas to that workfile, and who will then return this “ideas enriched” workfile to the Project Leader. This person will then send the “enriched” workfile to the second participant, who will in turn add further ideas to it and return it to the Project Leader, etc., until all those participating in that particular GTT PROJECT have handled the workfile once. Then the first ROUND will have been completed.
Since experience has shown that just one ROUND with, say, 7 participants produces hundreds of ideas, it will in most cases be sufficient to get many viable solutions to the client’s problem, but in some cases it may be necessary to have more Rounds before the client is fully satisfied.
What are the advantages offered by the GTT?
The GTT offers the following unique advantages to interested clients:
Leave a message with Robert L.A. Trost for more information about the Global Think Tank and Operation BrainStorm software.