She observed, as I have, that there's a big problem when you have a group of people together in a supposedly equal setting: the extroverts dominate. Introverts and/or people who don't consider themselves knowledgeable enough (and I have ALWAYS found those people to have very valuable things to offer) hold back. Her solution is what she calls "brain writing" (as opposed to brainstorming, where more assertive people always dominate) in order to truly level the field by bringing ideas from everyone, not just the assertives. It works like this:
- Use very small cards, to reduce the temptation to write essays.
- One idea per card; use 1-2 sentences max per idea.
- Spend 10 minutes capturing ideas (she found people usually slowed down around 5 minutes so this could be shortened).
- “No guessing or confessing.”
The last point means that you shouldn't try to guess who comes up with an idea, and you shouldn't say if you came up with an idea. It's important because the rule guarantees that someone shy knows they won't be outed no matter what, so they have complete security that they can safely suggest an idea.
It seems to me that this technique is more likely to produce more and better ideas -- especially the ideas that are really out there, the ones that could produce breakthroughs.