当以读书通世事 / 19-英语 / 双语阅读:为何“头脑风暴”大多是浪费时间

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双语阅读:为何“头脑风暴”大多是浪费时间

2019-08-25  当以读书...

Dear Pat: Funny you should ask. I've just been reading a fascinating new book about creativity, Thinking In New Boxes: Five Essential Steps to Spark the Next Big Idea. Of course, an entire mini-industry has sprung up to teach people how to think more creatively at work, and, you may have noticed, there's been no shortage of books about innovation.

亲爱的帕特: 很有意思,我最近刚刚读了一本关于创意的有趣的新书,名字叫《在新的盒子里思考:激发下一个大创意的五个重要步骤》(Thinking In New Boxes: Five Essential Steps to Spark the Next Big Idea)。当然,现在教人们如何提升创造力思维能力的人越来越多,已经发展成了一个小小的产业。可能你也注意到了,市面上关于创意的书不胜枚举。

This one is a bit different. Co-authors Luc de Brabandere and Alan Iny, longtime Boston Consulting Group creativity advisors, base their five–step method on what has worked for thousands of real-life managers they've coached -- starting with a persuasive analysis of why most brainstorming is a waste of time.

不过这本书却有些不同。它的作者卢克?布拉班迪尔和艾伦?艾尼长期担任波士顿咨询集团(Boston Consulting Group)的创意顾问,他们的“五步法”是根据工作中接触过的数千名经理人的成功经验总结出来的成果。而书中开篇就抛出一份很有说服力的分析,指出大多数所谓的“头脑风暴”都只不过是在浪费时间。

'In most brainstorming sessions, people are told to think up something new, while the old assumptions and preconceptions that created the problem in the first place are left unchallenged, ' says de Brabandere. 'So if you get people together and just let them loose on a problem, without questioning their assumptions, they will often be drawn right back into the same old rut.'

布拉班迪尔指出:“大多数头脑风暴会都要求人们想出一些新东西,但是导致问题产生的旧观念和旧想法其实并没有受到挑战。所以,如果你把人们召集到一块儿,让他们就一个问题随便发表看法,而不去质疑他们的旧观点,那么他们通常都会回到固有的思维惯性。”

Take, for instance, your sales slump. Before you start asking people for ideas about how to boost sales, de Brabandere and Iny suggest you take a step back and examine the situation more broadly. To think outside the box, you first have to see the box. 'Are sales approaches really the issue? Maybe the market has moved on, or maybe it's saturated, ' Iny says. 'Maybe the competition has changed the game. Maybe you aren't even in the right business anymore.'

比如以贵公司的销量趋缓的现状为例。根据布拉班迪尔和艾尼的建议,在你向人们征集意见,提高销量之前,你应该先退后一步,从更宏观的角度来审视当前的局面。要想跳出“盒子”去思考,首先要看清楚这个“盒子”是什么。比如艾尼说:“问题的症结真的是销售方法的问题吗?可能市场已经变了,或者说市场已经饱和了。也可能是竞争状况改变了市场格局,甚至还有可能你的业务已经不适合继续发展下去了。”

One example of how a fresh look at these basic questions can open up a whole new (and way bigger) box: Back in the 1970s, BIC Corp. was looking for ways to sell more plastic pens, 'until executives stepped back and asked themselves what business they were really in, ' says de Brabandere. 'They realized their business was bigger than just pens, it was disposable plastic items' -- a realization that soon had BIC growing like mad by selling lighters, razors, and other products.

有一个例子能够证明,从全新的角度看待这些基本问题有时能够打开一个全新的、乃至更大的盒子。布拉班迪尔介绍,上世纪70年代,BIC公司想方设法地想卖出更多的塑料笔。“后来公司高层后退了一步,思考自己的业务到底是什么。然后他们意识到,他们的业务远远不止局限于塑料笔,而是各种一次性塑料用品。”意识到这一点后,BIC公司开始销售打火机、剃须刀等塑料制品,公司也由此踏上了高速发展的道路。

Or consider a current case: Mark Zuckerberg's campaign to bring the whole world online. Thinking inside the same old familiar box would prompt the question, 'How can we wring more cash out of current Internet users?' Instead, or in addition, Zuck is turning his focus to the 4.7 billion people on the planet who aren't wired yet.

另外你还可以考虑一下当前的一个案例:Facebook的马克?扎克伯格正在想办法让全世界人民用上互联网。如果他固守在过去的盒子里,他就会想:“我们怎样能从现有的互联网用户身上挤出更多现金?”但是扎克伯格把关注的焦点转移到了全球尚未用上互联网的47亿人口身上。

Besides neglecting to think beyond old assumptions, the authors say the second-biggest reason so many brainstorming sessions fizzle out is a lack of structure. Thinking In New Boxes is packed with specific tips for focusing people's attention so they won't 'veer off in random directions,' as Iny puts it.

布拉班迪尔和艾尼还指出,除了不愿意跳出固有观念之外,很多“头脑风暴”无疾而终的另一个原因是缺乏结构化。《在新的盒子里思考》一书中有很多专门的小点子,告诉人们如何把注意力集中起来,以免他们“偏离到随机的方向上。”

One of these, he says, is to ask the group to imagine how 'the most unreal, unexpected, seemingly impossible events' could affect the business -- an exercise that tends to crush complacency. If brainstormers at Blockbuster had tried this, the authors note, they might have foreseen that the Internet, especially Netflix (NFLX), could end up eating their lunch, and lessened their reliance on retail stores much sooner instead of scrambling to play catch-up.

艾尼表示,其中的一个点子,就是让参与头脑风暴的人们想象一下,“最不现实、最预想不到、似乎最不可能的事件”可能会如何影响公司的业务。这种锻炼有益于打破满足感。如果百视达公司(Blockbuster)在搞头脑风暴的时候曾经尝试过这个点子,那么他们可能会预见到,以流媒体视频网站Netflix为代表的互联网公司最终可能会蚕食他们的业务,那么他们可能就会提早减少对零售店的依赖,而不是等到后来才手忙脚乱地进行追赶。

As for how to get your jaded colleagues on board, Iny and de Brabandere have found that it's often a simple matter of not rushing them. 'Participants tend to begin the [brainstorming] process with their backs up,' they write, since 'everyone has been through workshops or brainstorms that don't work.' With enough time, however, 'they let their guards down. They free up.' How much time is enough? 'When in doubt, give yourself at least half a day (or a full day if resources permit) in order to dig as deeply into the creative process as possible.' Good luck.

至于如何让心怀抵触的同事参与这个过程,艾尼和布拉班迪尔给出的建议是:“人们一开始参加头脑风暴时通常是不乐意的,因为人人都参加过没什么实际作用的研讨会或头脑风暴会。”不过只要给他们足够的时间,“他们就会放下防备,放松下来。”那么多少时间才够呢?“如果有疑问的话,给你自己至少半天的时间(如果条件允许,一整天也可以),以便尽可能深地挖掘到一个创造性的过程。”祝你好运。

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