too much info is killing your productivity, brainstorming doesn’t work, and more

First, a note: If you need an I.T. person for a Mac-based environment, the best one I’ve ever known is looking for work in Colorado. I can personally vouch for his awesomeness. Email me if you want to be connected.

Over at Intuit QuickBase’s Fast Track blog today, I take a look at several big work-related stories in the news right now: how information overload is killing your productivity, why brainstorming doesn’t work, and more. You can read it here.

{ 26 comments… read them below }

  1. Kai*

    I’m glad brainstorming is beginning to be recognized as not the most effective way to communicate ideas. Especially for introverts like me, it’s so much more efficient and comfortable to come up with some things on your own, write them down, and come together to talk more. Yelling out wacky ideas in a room full of people can be so terribly awkward and it doesn’t usually lead to Eureka moments like we’ve been conditioned to believe it will.

    1. Gina*

      I think it works if you’re in a close-knit team of very few people, just not when you get a whole group together where some of them you barely know. Or don’t like.

    2. Puddin*

      Brainstorming is so often mishandled – for some of the very reasons stated in the article, it makes me cringe. Brain-writing is a very effective storm method in my experience. It can also help overcome authority bias. If a person believe that an authority figure gives more weight to a certain kind of idea, they will focus on delivering those ideas, often at the detriment of true progress or innovation.

    3. James M*

      “Yelling out wacky ideas in a room full of people” seems like the kind of thing that happens when TPTB make decisions based on what they imagine other companies are doing (themselves ignorant of common planning strategies).

      Monkey see; monkey do. That’s the culprit behind so much wacky stuff we read about on AAM.

    4. FX-ensis*

      This is a good point, though I think a good manager would not let the more dominant and loud persons control the discussion. I’d think in any meeting there should be some basic rules for sharing ideas.

    5. Melissa*

      UGH. Brainstorming. I sit on the line between extravert and introvert and this is one of those things that’s definitely on my introverted side. I’m not shy about sharing my ideas, but in general I think people’s ideas are so much better/fully-formed when they’ve had a chance to think, write them down, and flesh out some details.

      Besides, brainstorming meetings tend to be dominated by the super-extraverted people who need to talk out their ideas in order for them to make sense to them, which often ends in us spending an hour going around in circles or arguing some minor detail while I sit in the corner and slowly shake my head and/or facepalm.

    1. The IT Manager*

      I’ve been wondering the same thing. I think she’s been absent for a week at least. (I am not able to keep up as much as I once did though.)

  2. KerryOwl*

    That last one (about writing what you’ve learned at the end of each day, and talking about it to a co-worker) is really interesting.

  3. ClaireS*

    I really enjoy these sorts of wrap ups. Thanks, Alison!

    The brainstorming tid bit and the reflection piece have inspired me to change some of my work habits!

  4. Militant Intelligent*

    Regarding your advert for an I.T. person seeking work in Colorado.

    Although I can’t assist in terms of providing an employment connect, have you ever considered using your site to connect job seekers and employers?


      1. Militant Intelligent*

        Ah! Okay. Maybe a someday you will create a related or sister site? A lot of the existing ones are cheesy and resume black holes. Of course just stating the obvious. Wishful thinking/pressurising on my behalf, perhaps! Thanks Alison!

    1. James M*

      The idea has been briefly touched upon before. A separate entity (most likely a non-profit org) would be created to develop and maintain the digital infrastructure to: guide job seekers in supplying the salient information about their professional status, guide employers in crafting high fidelity profiles for positions they wish to fill, provide a genetic algorithm(s) for matching them, and host a community support forum. It would be accessible through a web interface, possibly with apps as well.

      Feel free to get the ball rolling.

  5. I've Had It!!*

    I’d like to add something about information overload. The company I work for seems to think that sending dozens of massive Excel reports to us every day, multiple times per day, is a useful thing. It’s awful. I don’t have time to wade through the pivot tables, check the box that might pertain to me, see if there’s a problem, or wonder if something has updated in the past 2 hours. I’ve set my email filters to automatically delete all but a few of them. If I need it, I know where to find it, but I find I rarely need to look at them anyway.

  6. Colorado*

    Good luck on the job search in Colorado! It is truly a wonderful place to live! Though the jobs don’t seem as plenty as other parts of the country (i.e. East coast), they do exist and you will never want to leave :-)
    Oh, and do you know pot’s legal here too? I say that very snarkily because we have so many other things to offer (and from someone who is in favor of decriminalization that actually gets annoying).

  7. Anx*

    The brainstorming process that worked best for a committee I used to run was to brainstorm immediately when the topic was brought up. Then I’d encourage everyone to make a list of possibilities.

    When I relied on written brainstorm stations, some ideas never made it out because people didn’t think they were ‘worth seriously writing down’ once they thought about it some more.

  8. FX-ensis*

    IMO depends on the industry and/or job.

    Brainstorming works IMHO best in a strategic, creative or communications-based job. At least in these roles, one has to think, analyse and synthesise information.

    However, the ideas have to be filtered and screened before put into place. otherwise the process IMO makes little sense.

  9. Melissa*

    I learned about the time-out thing while I was writing my dissertation. When I was doing analyses, at the end of an analysis session I’d write a brief summary of what I did and what I found – not just the results, but how I conducted the analyses and the new things I’d learned that day. This was immensely helpful not only for writing my results and methods, but also for retaining my new knowledge. At the end of each writing day (particularly when I was writing the 50-page literature review) I’d take 5-10 minutes to think about what I’d written that day and jot down some notes for how to proceed the next day (“always park on the downhill slope”). It helped a lot because I would always forget where I left off the next day, and seeing the notes right there helped me get started more quickly and not rehash stuff I’d already done.

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