Parallel Thinking- This Is What Collaborating Teams Do Best

Ashley Marron

Over the years within the businesses I have worked, brainstorming has been constantly used within a group to bounce ideas and solve problems. Overall the process has had major benefits leading to clarity and agreement to move forward, but equally I can reflect and accept that at times the sometimes chaotic nature of this style of meeting or the overly dominant contribution from the most vocal can sometimes fail to engage all staff and maximise their contribution.

As we were prioritising the ideas for consideration into the development roadmap for MindGenius 2018 we decided to research other structured approaches to brainstorming and discovered that what collaborating teams do best is to tackle a project using parallel thinking. Parallel thinking is defined as a thinking process where focus is split in specific directions. When done in a group it effectively avoids the consequences of the adversarial approach (as used in courts).  Each contributor puts forward his or her thoughts in parallel with the thoughts of others – as opposed to attacking the thoughts of others. This leads to exploration of a subject where all participants can contribute, in parallel, viewing the discussion from the same perspective at the same time. The facilitator of the meeting requires to maintain a level of control as they guide the participants through the different perspectives:

Blue Perspective – Manage the process and logically consider different perspectives

Green Perspective – Let’s look for alternatives, new solutions and creative ideas

Black Perspective – Let’s play “devil’s advocate” and see what could go wrong

Red Perspective – Let’s consider feelings and gut intuition

Yellow Perspective – Let’s explore values and benefits

White Perspective – Let’s focus on the facts

Crucial to the method is that the process is done in a disciplined manner, and that all participants play along and contribute in parallel. Thus each participant must stick to the specific perspective being discussed.

With our new release of MindGenius 2018 we have therefore included a guided brainstorming option for our users called Solution Finder that brings a new level of innovation to solving problems and planning projects. When your team is first starting to think about a problem, a project or any initiative, Solution Finder helps make your thinking more clear, more creative and more complete and it has many different uses:

Initial Ideas

Choosing Between Alternatives

Identifying Solutions

Performance Review

Process Improvement

Quick Feedback

Solving Problems

Strategic Planning

The prepopulated question set varies the order of the perspectives that the team can consider and Solution Finder guides your team through answering several questions that are designed to help you think about everything needed for a successful outcome, including things you might not otherwise consider. For example, you can start with establishing the facts, what’s most important to know? Before you begin figuring out what you’ll do, what are some alternatives ways of solving the problem or planning the project? What could go wrong? What are the worst case scenarios? How does everybody on the team feel about this initiative? What does your gut say? This is important as the feelings of team members has a lot to do with the potential for success and for which proposed solutions will get support from the full team. What are the first actions your team needs to take to make it all happen when you’re done with your guided brainstorm? You can convert your thinking into a mind map and then you can further refine how you’ll solve the problem, plan the project or engage with the initiative.

Solution Finder guides you and your team to think more creatively, focus on the important things and achieve successful outcomes. It won’t make decisions for you but it helps you to see clearly everything you need to consider before you make your decisions.

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