From Brainstorms to Question Bursts: A Better Path to New Ideas

Brainstorming Lottery Game Ideas

Collaboration and ideation will become an important part of team dynamics as lotteries develop new games and marketing techniques to appeal to non-, light, and lapsed players. Traditional brainstorming methods – the kind that focus on solving problems or generating answers – won’t yield the type of innovative results that these changing times demand.

The new “question burst” methodology, described in the article “Better Brainstorming” by Hal Gregersen in the March/April 2018 edition of Harvard Business Review, creates a safe space to uncover new or differing perspectives. Though unconventional, lotteries can use question bursts to brainstorm for questions rather than answers, making it easier to push past biases and venture into uncharted territory.

The power of a question burst is in its ability to alter a person’s view of the challenge itself, which could be an important asset in the changing lottery industry. The question-burst format includes three steps:

Step One:
Select people who can consider the challenge from a fresh perspective. In fact, Gregersen recommends including two or three people with no direct experience with the problem. A facilitator lays out a high-level overview of the problem in one to two minutes, then issues two rules: participants can contribute only questions, and no one can provide preambles or justifications to frame their questions.

Step Two:
The question burst begins when the facilitator sets a timer for four minutes and the group spends that time generating questions about the challenge. If necessary, the facilitator should coach everyone to resist the urge to answer the questions. The group is trying to reframe things from a different perspective, not problem solve. The emphasis should be on quantity, with a goal of generating 15 questions

Step Three:
When the session is over, it is up to the facilitator to review the questions and see if they lead to new pathways. Gregerson reports that 80 percent of the time this exercise produces at least one question that reframes the problem and provides a fresh new angle for solving it. The last step is to commit to pursuing at least one of the pathways and devise a near-term action plan.

Hal Gregersen is executive director of the MIT Leadership Center, a senior lecturer in leadership and innovation at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the founder of the 4-24 Project to inspire leaders to develop the habit of questioning. A Thinkers50 globally ranked management thinker, he is the author of the forthcoming book The Questions Are the Answer (HarperCollins) and the co-author of The Innovator’s DNA: Mastering the Five Skills of Disruptive Innovators.

For more about the process of “Better Brainstorming,” read the full article from the Harvard Business Review.


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