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The charette procedure

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One of the great things about brainstorming is the fact that it is an extremely simple process. You can sit down with a blank sheet of paper, focus your mind on a specific goal or problem, and quickly come away with plenty of new ideas to pursue. Unfortunately, it is that simplicity that is also a flaw when it comes to the effectiveness of brainstorming.

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The charette procedure

  1. 1. The Charette Procedure One of the greatthingsaboutbrainstormingisthe fact thatit isan extremelysimpleprocess.Youcansit downwitha blanksheetof paper,focusyourmindon a specificgoal orproblem, andquicklycome away withplentyof new ideastopursue.Unfortunately,itisthatsimplicitythatisalsoaflaw whenitcomes to the effectivenessof brainstorming. If a problemiscomplicatedorneedsmanypeople tosolve it,thenbrainstormingisunlikelytobe the bestapproach.Whenthat is the case,puttingthe Charette Procedure intoactionisanoptionyoushould stronglyconsider. The Charette Procedure isa formof brainstormingwhichisdesignedtohelpyoukeepthe processon track and headedtowarda successful outcome.There are a few reasonstoemploythisprocedure for your nextbrainstormingsession,includingthose listedbelow – • You needtoinclude asignificantnumberof people inthe brainstormingprocess.If there are more than 10 – 15 people whoneedtobe includedinthe brainstormingsession,usingthe Charette approachwill make iteasiertoallow everyone toparticipate inaproductive manner.If youattempta standardbrainstormingsessionwithsomanypeople,itislikelythatonlyasmall handful will have theirideasheard. • You needtosolve more thanone problematthe same time.Solvingmore thanone problemat a time isnot a strengthof regularbrainstorming,asthe discussioncaneasilywanderoff track whenmultipleissuesneedtobe resolved.Withthe Charette Procedure,however,youwill have a way to addressall problemsathandinan organizedfashion. • You wanteveryone tohave a voice.Asisoftenthe case in businessmeetings,the loudestand most-outgoingpeopleinabrainstormingsessionare usuallythe onlyonestobe heard.Thatis not a goodthingfor teammorale or for the productivityof the session,sousingaframework such as thisone isa greatway to make sure everyone isheardequally.Whenyougive all your teammembersa comfortable environmentinwhichtoparticipate,youwill be able togettheir bestideasandbesteffort. Advantagesof The Charette Procedure
  2. 2. If you are facingan upcomingbrainstormingsessionwhichyouthinkneedsstructure tosucceed,the Charette Procedure couldbe the perfectwaytowindupwithproductive,innovativeideas. PuttingItto Work To understandexactlyhowtoputthisprocedure towork inyour nextbrainstormingsession,itwill be helpful towalkthroughanexample.Forthisexample,we are goingtoimagine thatthere are 20 people whomyouwishto include inabrainstormingsession.These 20people are goingtobe charged with attemptingtosolve three specificproblemsduringthissession.Obviously,if youwere tosimplycollect 20 people inaroom with the goal of solvingthree differentproblems,chaoscouldensue.Thatwon’tbe the case here,however,asthe structure youwill give the meetingisgoingtoallow itto progressnicely. As a firststep,youare goingto divide the 20people withinthe meetingintofourgroupsof five.Working insmallergroupsisalmostalwaysa goodideaina large meeting,asthisreducesthe chaosandallows more productive conversationstotake place.Give eachgroupa dedicatedplace towork – eachgroup couldevenworkinitsown room,if necessary.Also,eachgroupisgoingto picka specificproblemto tackle.Ratherthan tryingtodeal withall problemsatonce,groupsare goingto focuson a single issue to start. Inour example,there are three problemsandfour groups,sotwogroupswill be addressingthe same problem. AnExample of the Charette Procedure,
  3. 3. An ImportantJob One of the mostimportantstepsof thisprocedure isthe selectionof a‘recorder’withineachgroup.This person,obviously,isgoingto recordthe discussionsthatare takingplace duringthe brainstorming session.The recorderisanimportantjobbecause thispersonisgoingtomove fromgroup to groupas the Charette Procedure movesfromstartto finish.The processitself lookslikethis– • Withthe groupsestablished,the topicsselected,andthe recorderschosen,the firstsessionwill begin.Provide around10or 15 minutesforthe groupsto discussthe problemtheyhave picked. • Afterthe time forthe firstround hasexpired,the recordersare goingtomove fromone group to the next(theycanmove clockwise aroundthe room, or howeveryouwouldlike toorganize movement). • The recorderswill introduce theirnew grouptothe ideasof the firstgroup,andthe processwill move forwardfrom there.The Charette Procedure processiscompletedwithafull rotationhas beenfinishedandeachrecorderhassat witheachgroup. Whendone correctly,thistype of brainstormingsessioncanleave youwithatremendousnumberof ideasafterjusta relativelyshortperiodof time.If youallowedfor15 minutesduringeachroundinour example,the entire meetingwouldlastjustanhour.It isverylikelythatthishourwill have beenfar more productive thanan hourspentina wide open,20-personmeetingwithoutanystructure orspecific format. The Charette Procedure isa greatoptionwhenyouhave manypeople toinclude andmultiple problems to solve.Traditional brainstormingremainsavaluable tool forsmallergroupsandsituationswhere just one issue isonthe table,butyouneedmore advancedtoolstodeal withthe addedcomplexitythat comeswithbiggroupsand multiple topics. A Summary ofthe Charette Procedure Your teammembersare likelytoappreciate thisbrainstormingstyle because itgiveseveryone an opportunitytocontribute –especiallythosewhomightbe tooquietorshyto speakup ina large meeting.Nowthatyouunderstandthe basicformatof the Charette Procedure,youcankeepyoureye out foran opportunitytoput itto use in your ownorganization. KeyPoints • The Charette Procedure isa formof brainstormingwhichisdesignedtohelpyoukeepthe processon track and headedtowardasuccessful outcome. • It can be usedwhenyouneedtoinclude asignificantnumberof peopleinthe brainstorming process,youhave,more thanone problemtosolve andyouwanteveryone tohave a voice. • The firststepis to splitpeople intogroupsof fourorfive,give eachgroupa single issue tofocus on,and appointsomeone toact as a recorderfor eachgroup. • Withthe groupsestablished,the topicsselected,andthe recorderschosen,allow around10 or 15 minutesforthe groupsto discussthe topictheyhave beenassigned. • Afterthe time forthe firstround hasexpired,the recordersare goingtomove fromone group to the nextand introduce theirnew grouptothe ideasof the firstgroup.
  4. 4. • Thisprocesscontinuesuntil afull rotationhasbeencompletedandeachrecorderhas sat with each group. • The Charette Procedure isa greatoptionwhenyouhave manypeople toinclude andmultiple problemstosolve asitcan generate manyideasquicklywhilstensuringtheyeveryonehasa voice.