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Two Stanford Professors Explain How to Produce Hundreds of World-Changing Ideas In 1 Hour

Cramming everyone into a conference room to "spitball" is a disaster. But with some structure and a system, literally thousands of ideas are within reach


A vague calendar event appears in your inbox. There’s an urgent need for breakthrough thinking, and you’re invited. It’s got something to do with the big sales conference next week. Or a major new client. Or that recent wave of negative Yelp reviews. Doesn’t matter. The important thing is that you show up. An organization’s desperate, last-minute scramble for ideas is always democratic. Everyone is welcome to contribute solutions — as long as they sound feasible and involve zero risk to anyone with power at the table. It’s time to brainstorm.

Inevitably, the big session gets squeezed into an awkward afternoon slot, when everyone is running on empty. Or, worse, near the end of the day, when people are anxious to head home or rest their Zoom-weary eyes.

If anybody knew how to solve this — stalling sales, escalating costs, a PR disaster — it wouldn’t be a problem. It would just be a project, delegated to the appropriate individual or team. You call everyone together only when you don’t see a clear path to a resolution. Forget answers. No one’s even sure of the question. Ultimately, the corporate brainstorming session is an act of desperation: “Somebody’s got to know how to handle this — I sure don’t!”

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