Following my last post and Frédéric Domon’s points about the social nature of learning and how “80% of learning is unexpected, unplanned and informal”, I was happy to fall across this post from Sam McNerney as I was doing a little Scoop.it curating

McNerney on his site, Why We Reason, differentiates between the benefits of solitude when getting on with work and the necessity of a ‘coffeehouse’ setting to enlightened idea generation.  As an aside, I really loved this image that Sam used to illustrate his post.

Coffeehouse picture per Why We Reason

The reality of great ideas is that they require other people.

He goes on, with reference to Steven Berlin Johnson, to dis brainstorming – a process not without critics since the late 1940s.

The problem with brainstorming is its tendency to treat people and their ideas too kindly. Criticism and error are essential in the formation of good ideas after all; brainstorming simply doesn’t facilitate this.

 

Quoting Charlan Nemeth and others testing the “potential value of permitting criticism and dissent”

The exchange of ideas amongst people is good, then, but an overly agreeable brainstorming session is certainly not”.

So, ideas are best generated amongst groups of people

  • in social and conversational environments
  • who gather informally – over lunch, coffee, sitting on the floor, shooting the breeze, banging tankards on the table
  • in an atmosphere where criticism, debate and turning ideas on their head is encouraged and supported
  • who take responsibility for being in the mix of ideas and helping them develop

Here’s to the unexpected and informal.  And to minds and hearts open to a bit of robust debate and movement in the way we think about the world.

 

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