All those years ago...

How we can optimize creativity in a group


For my undergraduate and graduate thesis, I focused on the emerging technology of electronic brainstorming. In conducting our study, we wanted to determine if the main challenges faced by traditional face to face brainstorming could be eliminated or significantly reduced by incorporating our new electronic brainstorming technology. We identified the following three impediments to the free flow of ideas within a traditional setting:

  1. Production Blocking: as one person speaks another person may forget or suppress their ideas thereby creating a ‘blocking’ effect.

  2. Evaluation Apprehension: * ideas are inhibited due to a fear of negative evaluations from others in the group (in other words, insecure thinking).

  3. Free Riding: taking a ‘free ride’, as it were, by relying on others to produce the ideas for the group

We then created a lab where participants could brainstorm electronically, in real time, and also controlled for the above factors. What we discovered was that productivity was significantly increased when the participants brainstormed electronically as opposed to traditionally. Huzzah!!!


when I factor in my new understanding of how the mind works, I can clearly see that our attempts to control for production blocking, evaluation apprehension and free riding, was merely an attempt to control outside circumstances. In other words, the strategy was based on an outside-in model without consideration or awareness of how we, in fact, experience life...which is inside-out.

We thought that by controlling the outside environment of our participants, we could influence their inside psychological experience and thereby the overall productivity of the group. What I didn't appreciate or even understand, at the time, was that by showing our partipants the role of state of mind, insight and the inside-out nature of life, we could have revealed a much more direct, consistent and sustainable route toward increased productivity that would have also had a beneficial impact on the whole of their lives thereafter.

When one understands where insight comes from and that the nature of thought is free flowing, for example, one no longer has to concern oneself with the issue of production blocking. It is a non-starter. Ideas are constantly flowing whether one has an opportunity to share or not. In addition, by being present in the moment, there is a greater chance for higher quality thinking and therefore a more significant contribution.

When one understands where insecure thoughts come from, for example, one no longer personalizes their presence and can move beyond them much faster. As a result, they no longer have the power to inhibit responses or thinking and therefore the issue of evaluation apprehension is naturally addressed.

When one understands that our nature is to engage and dance with life fully, for example, we no longer have to concern ourselves with trying to free ride our way through life; stay hidden and safe. We begin to naturally move with life with little to no fear.

All those years ago, we weren't aware of this...

Now we know better...





Lana Bastianutti