Here is an interesting experiment for you to do. Show a group of people a picture of a pair of socks. Ask one of them what they saw. Chances are, they will tell you a pair of socks and everyone in the group will agree with them. From that moment on, whenever anyone looks at that picture they will see a pair of socks and nothing else. Do the same exercise again. After the first person has identified the pair of socks ask the rest of the people a different question- “If this were not a pair of socks, what could it be?” You will get completely different answers that go from golf club covers to condoms for eskimos. In the first exercise you have let people indulge in groupthink. Once there is agreement on what they are supposed to see, people find it difficult to see something else. When there is no “agreed upon” way of seeing things they are free to go anywhere they want. In Idea Gen sessions, always start the session by asking people to write down five to ten potential solutions to the problem they are facing. Then they can share the solutions and start building upon them. By doing this, you empower people to “diverge” before they “converge” on the most exciting, unexpected solutions…and avoid the perils of groupthink!

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