One of my favorite collaboration tools is brainstorming. Now don’t go thinking that this is some antiquated, over-the-hill technique. Coined back in the 1950’s brainstorming has stayed the course as a key contributor to the creative process. Here’s the trick though when it comes to enhancing your collaborations.
Current research (http://www.cpsb.com/research/articles/creative-problem-solving/Reexamination-of-Brainstorming-Research.pdf) suggests that having some solo time to consider a topic for brainstorming before joining a group to collaborate will result in a more divergent set of ideas. For example, if your job requires that you come up with a new way to cut costs, starting a list of things that are top-of-mind will prime your idea-generating machine. Then to ensure you don’t get tapped out too readily or rely too much on vanilla-type notions, join with others to enhance your list.
Asking a colleague to add ideas is a start but you can also do something like a popular beverage company did when it featured an opportunity for visitors to its Facebook page to brainstorm ideas for its’ next energy drink. Think first and then go find collaborators – that’s a formula for a successful collaboration.