Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Stick brainstorming up your....

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PC has a great post about how brainstorming is a waste of time. It is part of the school of office psychobabble that has brought us all plenty of mindless exercises like:
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- open plan offices (a bit like saying 40 person chauffeur driven car - it's not a frigging office!) guaranteed to at best disturb you with background noise, nose picking, eating and general lack of privacy, at worst you get idiot interrupting you blathering on about whatever they want to talk about and people flirting endlessly with the hot members of staff they like (my work only has the noise);
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- planning days - when an enormous amount of labour sits largely idle while one person is paid to talk to them, encourage them all to participate, yet less than 50% do and, at worst, play games of trust, give praise or positive criticism. Perfect for paving over the real issues;
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- meetings to share information - basically for people who can't be arsed reading and those who can't be arsed writing about it. These can be useful, in small quantities - but meetings day in day out are a big waste of time;
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- any use of democracy at work - counting heads, not what's in them. Useful for "where shall we go for annual team lunch", but not much else. Useless for asking for bright ideas, even more useless when asking if people are more likely to stay if they are paid more - well duh! If most people are happy at work, it will show by them staying - if not, the turnover rate is high. It is pretty simple. There need to be ways of dealing with dissatisfaction, which boils down to talking to managers or having someone else to talk to if the manager is the problem;
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Brainstorming has weaknesses when anyone involved fears the opinion of others, or if it isn't chaired properly and it has to be seen to be a better use of time that people working independently. You see most people have most of the same ideas most of the time in most fields. It is a bit like asking - how should we fix the health system? The ideas would be spend more, spend less, privatise, nationalise, decentralise, recentralise - and that's really it. Far better for someone to produce a paper with options and circulate it for comment, than to sit around having a ....
The full report PC's post referred to is here.

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