Creative tools: Spear

Spearfishing is a group of techniques which intensifies trials (and errors) and by this boosts number of ideas. The most widely known techniques of the group is brainstorming: focus on quantity, ban on critisism in generation phase, strong emphasis on separation of generation of ideas from evaluation of the ideas. Brainstorming as a method gave birth to many techniques similar by general approach, although sometimes quite different by procedures.

The group in general is very user friendly but not always effective. Effectiveness declines with increase of difficulty of the problems. The inventive problem solving process is similar to spearfishing: chaotic jumps and thrusts but as long as fish is in abundance and the water is shallow, the process is fun and fruitful.

One of the best known techniques of this group is BRAINSTORMING. It is so well-known that the chances are you have a very vague idea on how to do it properly. If it is so, there are instructions below:

  • The idea of the method is simple but brilliant. Аlex F. Osborn (the author of the method) once noted that a lot of ideas are never expressed or defended because of fear of disapproval. Criticism kills the most ambitious – and most vulnerable to disapproval – ideas. Osborn suggested that the process is divided into two different stages: generating and evaluating of ideas.
  • The first stage involves a group of 5-15 people, preferably having different occupations, age etc. and being free from a hierarchy subordination of any kind. No criticism is allowed at this stage. Everybody is free to express any “stupid” ideas that could only come to his/her mind, while at the same time, if possible, trying to develop ideas expressed by others. Up to one hundred ideas can be generated in 40-50 minutes at this stage.
  • The second stage involves criticism. The ideas are thoroughly evaluated in various combinations. The process involves both screening and developing the ideas, which were generated, aiming at finding a fruitful offshoot on a tree, however hopeless and weak it may look. The expectations from the group are much more demanding at this stage: people must have an open mind, a good background and professional knowledge, be optimistic and ready for change (i.e. ready to admit that certain beliefs and tools they were using in their professional life are erroneous or imperfect). The group can consist of 1-3 people.
  • 30-35 minutes of discussion would typically get nearly all stereotypes to wear out. If the stage went successfully in a sense that no tempo was lost, the chances that ambitious and innovative solutions have been created in its course are very high. The effectiveness of the method is dependent on the skills of an anchorman and cooperation within the group. It is worth noting that the method in itself helps to enhance the cooperation: one of psychological phenomena of the method is its ability to develop the mutual tolerance and trust within the group.