GROUP THINK & Multiple Research Confirms Brainstorming Kills Breakthrough Ideas (& What To Do Instead)

by Melissa Schilling, Inc. Magazine, 2/9/18.

… Over a half a century ago, Alex Osborne wrote an influential book called Applied Imagination that opined that “the average person can think up twice as many ideas when working with a group than when working alone.” Managers must have been convinced because brainstorming groups took off in popularity and are still used widely to this day. In fact, in business schools it is almost heretical to argue that teams are not more creative than individuals.

The only problem is that Osborne was wrong. Dozens of laboratory studies tried to confirm Osborne’s claim, but found the opposite: brainstorming groups produced fewer ideas, and ideas of less novelty, than the sum of the ideas created by the same number of individuals working alone…

…three main reasons that groups are less creative than individuals working on their own:

1. Fear of Judgment

A series of studies by Professors Michael Diehl, Wolfgang Stroebe, Bernard Nijstad, Paul Pauhus, and others found that people self-censor many of their most creative ideas in group brainstorming sessions for fear of being judged negatively by others. When the scientists told groups that their ideas would be judged by their peers, they came up with significantly fewer and less novel ideas than groups that were told they would be evaluated by anonymous judges.

As Isaac Asimov, one of the most famous science fiction writers of all time (and also a biochemistry professor at Boston University) put it, “My feeling is that as far as creativity is concerned, isolation is required…The presence of others can only inhibit this process, since creation is embarrassing. For every new good idea you have, there are a hundred, ten thousand foolish ones, which you naturally do not care to display.”

2. Production Blocking

When people take turns to voice their ideas, those bringing up the rear may forget their ideas before having a chance to voice them. Worse still, the process of attending to another person’s ideas redirects a listener’s train of thought, essentially hijacking their own idea generation process. Scientists were able to demonstrate this by separating individuals into rooms where they would speak their ideas into a microphone when lights indicated it was their turn. In some of the rooms the individuals could hear the contributions of others, and in some they could not. This study resulted in big creativity losses: being required to wait to give ideas caused people to submit far fewer ideas, and even fewer ideas if they could hear the contributions of others…

3. Feasibility Trumps Originality

Another series of studies by Professor Eric Rietzschel and colleagues shows that teams aren’t just bad for idea generation; they even impair idea selection. If you let people work alone to generate ideas but then let the group select the best ideas to pursue, they will make decisions that reduce novelty. The studies showed that when groups interactively ranked their “best” ideas, they chose ideas that were less original than the average of the ideas produced, and more feasible than the average of the ideas produced. In other words, people tended to weight “feasible” more highly than “original.” If a brainstorming group is intended to elicit novel ideas, asking groups to select and submit their best ideas is not the way to achieve that outcome.

The Benefits of Spending Time Alone

Solitude is immensely valuable for creativity; it affords a person the time to think and pursue those things they find intrinsically interesting. It can help them to develop their own beliefs about how the world works, and to develop a self-concept that is less structured by the opinions of others.

Read more at … https://www.inc.com/melissa-schilling/the-science-of-why-brainstorming-in-groups-doesnt-work.html

INNOVATION & A Comparison Between Red Ocean Strategy & Blue Ocean Strategy

by Sage Growth Partners, 3/17/09.

Read more at … https://www.slideshare.net/mobile/SageGrowthPartners/blue-ocean-innovation-bli

creativity need-meeting needs safety needs

INNOVATION & Where Good Ideas Come From: Colliding Hunches #StevenJohnson #YouTube

Commentary by Prof. B: Invocation usually results when people who have “hunches” collide with people who have other hunches. See this video for an entertaining explanation of the process.

BRAIN EXERCISES & Don’t Lose Your Brain at Work – The Role of Recurrent Novelty at Work in Cognitive and Brain Aging

by Jan Oltmanns, Ben Godde, Axel H. Winneke, Götz Richter, Claudia Niemann, Claudia Voelcker-Rehage, Klaus Schömann and Ursula M. Staudinger, Frontiers in Psychology Journal, 2/26/17.

Abstract

Cognitive and brain aging is strongly influenced by everyday settings such as work demands. Long-term exposure to low job complexity, for instance, has detrimental effects on cognitive functioning and regional gray matter (GM) volume. Brain and cognition, however, are also characterized by plasticity. We postulate that the experience of novelty (at work) is one important trigger of plasticity. We investigated the cumulative effect of recurrent exposure to work-task changes (WTC) at low levels of job complexity on GM volume and cognitive functioning of middle-aged production workers across a time window of 17 years. In a case-control study, we found that amount of WTC was associated with better processing speed and working memory as well as with more GM volume in brain regions that have been associated with learning and that show pronounced age-related decline. Recurrent novelty at work may serve as an ‘in vivo’ intervention that helps counteracting debilitating long-term effects of low job complexity.

Read more at … http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00117/full#B71

CREATIVITY & How Challenge and Creativity Improve Brain Function

[PDF] researchgate.net

The continuing effects of substantively complex work on the intellectual functioning of older workers.

by C Schooler, MS Mulatu, G Oates – Psychology and aging, 1999 – psycnet.apa.org

Abstract

Using a nationally representative sample of employed men and women in this longitudinal study, the authors extended for another 20 years findings based on 1964 and 1974 data (Kohn & Schooler, 1983) that substantively complex work improves intellectual functioning. This study provides evidence that intellectual functioning and substantive complexity of work continue to reciprocally affect each other. In addition, it shows that the

Read more at … https://scholar.google.com/scholar_lookup?title=The+continuing+effects+of+substantively+complex+work+on+the+intellectual+functioning+of+older+workers%2E&journal=Psychol%2E+Aging&author=Schooler+C.&author=Mulatu+M.+S.&author=and+Oates+G.&publication_year=1999&volume=14&pages=483-506

MULTIPLICATION & The Problematic ‘Creative Class’: When a Generation of Church Planters Only Reach White People

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: In my book “The Healthy Church” I describe five models of multicultural churches and show how two of the models are better than all others at breaking down racial walls and creating physical, as well as spiritual reconciliation. Readers often ask me if this is really necessary. And, I believe it is based upon the reasons cited in this important article.

The Problematic ‘Creative Class’: When a Generation of Church Planters Only Reach White People

Written by Doug Paul, Missio Alliance, on January 26, 2016

So I have tried to make it clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends. —Martin Luther King, Jr.

Scholar Stephen Hayes has long noted that Sunday mornings are the most segregated time in America. There are many reasons for this, most of which I will not delve into in this post. Instead, I want to explore one, perhaps hidden force that may be perpetuating this trend.

Closing in on 10 years ago, my wife and I, along with some close friends and a few pie-in-the-sky ideas, started the process of planting a church.

Around this time, a book came out of nowhere, capturing the imagination of America and finding a spot on the New York Times best seller list: The Rise of the Creative Class (by Richard Florida).

In a nutshell:

This book quickly achieved classic status for its identification of forces then only beginning to reshape our economy, geography, and workplace. Weaving story-telling with original research, Richard Florida identified a fundamental shift linking a host of seemingly unrelated changes in American society: the growing importance of creativity in people’s work lives and the emergence of a class of people unified by their engagement in creative work. Millions of us were beginning to work and live much as creative types like artists and scientists always had, Florida observed, and this Creative Class was determining how the workplace was organized, what companies would prosper or go bankrupt, and even which cities would thrive. –Description of the newly revised and expanded The Rise of the Creative Class

Not only was this book a best seller, but it changed the way people started talking about vocational desire. This was injected straight into church planting conversations in ways that went something like this: “What if we had churches that reached the creative class? After all, these will be the people who are shaping culture!”

The missiological question that came to dominate these conversations was essentially, “What if church (in structure, in practice and in ethos), was built to reach this cooler-than-thou group of culture makers that so many suburbanites aspirational?”

Seemingly overnight, church plant after church plant after church plant popped up…all looking somewhat similar taking their cues from the concept of reaching the”creative class.” It would be difficult to describe the impact of this book on church planting in the last decade. Not just the church planting world…but our country as a whole.

In fact…it’s gone mainstream. Today, the core principles planted with these concepts have born the fruit that is lovingly, ironically, and sardonically called Hipster Church (a purposeful over-generalization). And Hipster Church? Well…it’s everywhere in church plants. If you’re reading this post, chances are you’ve visited such a church. You might even be part of one.

But there was one thing that always seemed to be missing in the description of this creative class. Yes, they want to be part of something bigger than themselves. Yes, they like flexibility in workspace and dress. Yes, they want to tap into and blend all of the various creative avenues in their life. (I could go on with these descriptions.)

But the one unspoken?

The creative class is disproportionately WHITE.

Because of the racialization of America, the vast majority of people who have access to the experiences one would need to become a part of this class means that most of these people are:

Disproportionately affluent
-1 in 3 earn over $100,000 per year, 9% earn over $150,000
-48% are members of what is called “the Investor Class”

Disproportionately educated
-Over half have college degrees (compared to 30% nationally)

And disproportionately white
-65%, according to Forbes, but I think this is significantly off (but is still 2/3rds!)

Just so I am 100% clear, I’m not saying that there aren’t loads of creative voices who are minority voices. Rather – and this is how race and class come together in a subtle way – the sociological distinction known as the “creative class” means things that include economic realities and educational realities. And study after study shows that white people have more access to these opportunities than anyone else.

So it’s not, “Who is creative?” It’s about who fits the sociological description of “creative class.”

Now, I’m not going to spend lots of time proving the point above. Chances are, if you don’t believe the creative class is mostly white, and the ability to access the creative class is far easier if you’re white, even if I try to prove the point, I doubt you’ll agree with what I’m saying. So no need to take up any more space. 😉

So herein lies the problem: What happens when a generation of church planters buy into a core concept that, almost by nature, is seeking to reach one group of people? White people.

If you’re not white and you walk into one of these churches, even though they are trying to reach the “creative class,” my sneaking suspicion is that it still feels distinctly white. And if you’re a minority voice in America, something that feels white doesn’t tend to feel safe.

Read more at … http://www.missioalliance.org/the-problematic-creative-class-when-a-generation-of-church-planters-only-reached-white-people/

NEW IDEAS & How/When To Introduce Them in Your Church’s Missional Lifecycle

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel:  Dr. Charles Arn is one of the best tactical thinkers in the field of Church Growth and health.  In this article he will help you plot your organization’s location in its lifecycle. A helpful byproduct of his article is that Dr. Arn will help you see when and how to introduce a new idea for maximum impact. For more on implementing new ideas (sometimes called “intervention events”) see an article I wrote to accompany Arn’s article, titled: NEW IDEAS & 7 Lessons for Avoiding A Church Split When You Introduce a New Idea.  Additional insights on lifecycles can be found in Ichak Adizes’ classic lifecycle depiction of the Bell Curve of Organizational Change.

“Where is Your Church In Its Missional Lifecycle?”

by Charles Arn (nd).

Gravity exists. And, there’s not much we can do about it. As we grow up, we learn this by dropping things on our feet, falling out of trees, and slipping on icy sidewalks. So, the best thing to do is to learn to live with it, and… even make it our ally. We fill balloons with helium and rise above the earth. We build airfoil wings and propellers to fly with the birds.

Lifecycles also exist. And, there is not much we can do about that, either. Every living thing has them: plants … animals … people … churches. Lifecycles simply are. Life begins … it flourishes … then it ends. So, the best thing to do is to learn to live with it, and…even make it our ally.

To begin, it is important to realize that there is one amazing difference between the lifecycle of churches, and the lifecycle of all other living things. On the following pages I hope to help us 1) better understand church lifecycles, and then 2) consider how a church’s lifecycle can work for us (rather than against us) in accomplishing the mission of Christ’s church.

What is a Church Lifecycle?

First, it is important to realize that every church has a lifecycle. And every church—including yours—is somewhere on its lifecycle. The lifecycle describes a local church’s progression from infancy…to maturity…to death. Where you are on the lifecycle has a great deal to do with your church’s ability to reach new people for Christ and assimilate them into your church family. Churches well into their lifecycle find it increasingly difficult to mobilize people and programs in pursuit of their mission.

The easiest way to determine where you are on the lifecycle is to graph the worship attendance since your church’s birth. Your pattern will not be as simplified as the graph below. But this basic trend in attendance (and, to a lesser degree, membership) can be observed in most churches when averaged out over a period of years. The sobering fact is that at least 80% of churches in America today are on the flat or back-side of their lifecycles.

FIGURE Arn Typlical Church Lifecycle copy.jpg

 

In the early stages of a church’s life there is a high sense of mission among all involved. The church is purpose-driven. Charter members, and often a bi-vocational pastor, volunteer their time to help the church reach people and grow. Buildings are less important; structure is less important. The motivation is mission. And the result is growth.

As the formative years give way to time, the church reaches a comfortable size and attendance begins to level off. Where this plateau occurs depends on the church’s growth in the first stage. Congregations typically plateau near 35, 75, 100, 250, 400, 750 or 1,000 in attendance. People who affiliate with the church in this stage come predominantly via transfer growth, while fewer and fewer people are added by conversion growth. An emerging pattern of “institutionalization” is reflected by the increase in committees, and the decrease in accomplishment.

The final stage of a church’s lifecycle—decline—often begins after a church’s 50th birthday. Few, if any, members reflect the mission priority of the founders. The community has usually changed, while the church has not. Decline in worship attendance during this stage may be gradual or abrupt. Few in the church, including the staff, believe the church’s best days are still ahead.

Here is the critical insight that has grown from the study of church lifecycles: The longer a church exists, the more concerned the leaders and members become with self-service, and the less concerned with the church’s original mission and reason for being.

Robert Orr has enlarged the three stages of growth, plateau, decline into a more detailed description of the changes that occur as a church moves from “initial structuring” toward “disintegration.” [1]

CHART Robert Or 5 Stages of Lifecycle of Churches copy

But, the good news is that, unlike other living organisms that face an inevitable end to their lifecycle, the local church CAN begin a new lifecycle. In fact, the study of church growth (to which I have devoted much of my professional life) is actually the study of how churches can break out of the gravitational pull toward attendance plateau or decline, and actually re-discover the visionary excitement and missional focus that occurs at the beginning of a new lifecycle.

And what about those churches that do not seem to be affected by this lifecycle pattern? The ones that are growing beyond the first 15 – 20 years. How do they do it?

First, here is a graph of what does not occur in growing churches:

FIGURE Arn Non Typlical Church Lifecycle copy.jpg

Rather than a linear pattern of growth, churches that are growing when they shouldn’t be (based on lifecycle projections) show a “stair-step” pattern of growth, as illustrated below…

FIGURE Arn Typlical Church Growth Lifecycle copy.jpg

Here’s an important insight: Most churches that are growing at a time when they should be plateaued or declining have begun new lifecycles! Something has interrupted the church’s normal pattern—I call it an “intervention event”—and a new lifecycle has begun before the old lifecycle has pulled them into decline or death.

Beginning a New Lifecycle

The secret to beginning a new lifecycle is just that… beginning something new. An intervention event is an interruption in the status quo. These interruptions are sometimes “controllable,” sometimes not. Hopefully they are perceived as “good,” but sometimes the interruptions seem “bad.” Whatever their nature, intervention events “change the rules.” And, with a change in rules comes an opportunity to reconnect with the passion—the mission—which was the source of growth in the early stage of the church’s lifecycle.

Here are some intervention events I have seen ignite new enthusiasm and mission in a church that was on the flat or backside of its lifecycle:

  1. A change of pastors
  2. A crisis
  3. Planting a church
  4. Closing, then re-opening the church
  5. Renewal of the pastor
  6. Renewal of the laity
  7. Denominational intervention
  8. An outside consultant
  9. Relocation of the church facilities
  10. Beginning a new (style) worship service

There is no guarantee that an event which disrupts a church’s status quo will automatically begin a new lifecycle. An intervention event is simply a moment in a church’s life when “the time is right” for change. Intervention events provide open “doors of opportunity,” but not every church is either aware of this fateful moment, or chooses to walk through those open doors and begin a new lifecycle. (By the way, of all the “controlled” interventions I have seen, adding a new style worship service is consistently the most successful in beginning a new lifecycle.[2])

There are three places in a church’s lifecycle where the intervention event might occur—the growth stage, the plateau stage, or the decline stage. The results of the intervention in a church will vary depending on where it is in the lifecycle:

 FIGURE Arn Critical Points Church Lifecycle copy.jpg

Critical Point “A”

Introducing an intervention strategy at this point in a church’s lifecycle is reasonably difficult. But it is ideally the best time and place to do so. The difficulty comes as lay leaders look at the present church attendance—higher each year than the year before—and wonder whether the benefit of significant change is worth the risk. Things seem to be going reasonably well in the church. Why fix it if it isn’t broken?

Despite the challenge of introducing significant change at this point, church leaders that successfully do so will add at least ten years of growth to the church’s present lifecycle. For such churches, the “new rules” serve as a booster to maintain the momentum of growth. Beginning a new lifecycle while the church is still growing continues the outreach priority before the gravity of the old lifecycle can pull the church out of its growth and missional mindset.

Critical Point B

If your church’s worship attendance has been plateaued for the past ten to fifteen years (no more than a ±5% change), a successful intervention strategy will help to avoid the attendance decline that is soon to follow. Critical Point “B” is actually the easiest time to gain congregational support for a new way of doing things. An assessment of church attendance will confirm non-growth. But because these churches have experienced growth in the relatively recent past, and generally want to see an increase in attendance, a well-conceived intervention strategy is likely to receive a positive endorsement. The exception is when the following three ingredients come together: the church is able to easily meet its financial obligations (perhaps through an endowment), the sanctuary is at least 50% full on an average Sunday, and the congregation has little taste for involvement in outward-focused activities.

Critical Point “C”

If an intervention strategy is not introduced at this point, the church will slip into a coma beyond resuscitation. It is difficult to know exactly when a church reaches this point in its lifecycle. In reality, it is the point of no return. One of the intervention events noted earlier can be most successful at this point—closing the church, then beginning the process of planting a new church which opens the following year.

Most churches beyond Point C in the lifecycle do not have the energy, vision, or resources to live through a major change. The situation is not unlike a dying person so weak that further surgery would hasten the end rather than prolong it. However, if there is still an adamant desire for life in a church at this point, it is usually easy to get a “survival vote” supporting the intervention. Even then, however, more people are willing to vote for the change than to actively participate in its pursuit.

Conclusion

Time and space do not allow for a detailed discussion of every phase in a church’s lifecycle. [3] Indeed, re-missionalizing a church’s priorities involves many activities. Accounting for the lifecycle effect is just one of those concerns. But it is an important one, because an increased understanding of lifecycles will help you plan more strategically for how to recapture your church’s missional priorities.

To consider the lifecycle factor in your church, and how to make it your ally, I suggest that you …

  • graph the attendance of your church since its inception, and discuss whether you can see the lifecycle pattern(s) in your history;
  • discuss what events occurred that might have precipitated any new lifecycles that occurred in your church’s history;
  • duplicate the chart on page 3 and ask church leaders to identify where they believe the church presently is on each item;
  • ask whether your present location on the lifecycle has an influence in your ability to identify and pursue your church’s mission;
  • discuss whether your church needs to consider an intervention strategy to begin a new lifecycle. And if so, what are the next steps.

[1] Robert Orr, “Is Your Church in a Mid-Life Crisis?” in The Growth Report, No. 4, Institute for American Church Growth, Pasadena, California.

[2] Because of this, I researched the process of starting a new service, and reported it in the book How to Start a New Service (Baker, 1997).

[3] Gary McIntosh has written an excellent new book (not yet published as of this writing) entitled Church Lifecycles. I strongly recommend his work for a much more comprehensive exploration of this important dynamic of church lifecycles.