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Group innovation – Not always smooth

“Innovation is a team sport. There’s a dynamic that happens between people that produces results I just don’t see with an individual.”
Drew Boyd, Innovation leader and educator, blogger of Innovation in Practice

group innovation

Companies are starting to realize that group innovation is the key is to solving problems. Group innovation, however, is not always a smooth process.

The most popular method of group innovation is brainstorming. Over the last two decades, studies have proven that this technique, introduced by Alex Osborne is 1948, is not as effective as it is believed to be. According to Drew Boyd, quoted at the beginning of this post, “he (Osborne) had it right in terms of group process, but he had it wrong in terms of the method.”

Studies have shown that better ideas get generated by individual employees than if they were to sit down together and try to come up with a quality idea. According to an article on, “employees in a team-based brainstorming process may censor themselves to fit in with their peers or supervisor. Group brainstorming may also result in conversation dominated by the least creative individuals in the room. Employees may tune out of the process if they know their voices will not be heard or may be happy in letting others do the ‘heavy lifting’ if they are not expected to contribute equally.”

Another problem is that throwing in an idea for public consideration generates fear of failure; workers hoping to advance their own interests often keep their best ideas to themselves until a more opportune time.

So, what is the best method for group innovation?

Boyd suggests that instead of identifying a problem and then seeking solutions, group innovation works the other way around: “Break down successful products and processes into separate components, then study those parts to find other potential uses.” This process is known as systematic inventive thinking. Innovations can then results from the “pre-inventive” ideas that are formed using this process.

OneDesk: A tool for group innovation

OneDesk facilitates the group innovation process by allowing individuals to collaborate and share ideas. This allows companies to collect feedback and ideas and identify which of their products or services are the most successful. They can study the feedback they receive and identify what customers want. They can then break down the feedback into requirements and from there, generate tasks to be worked on. Throughout the process, companies can collaborate with all stakeholders and an clear up any uncertainties.

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