June 30, 2017 / Articles We Like / Design Thinking / Creativity / Innovation

On “Are People More Creative Alone or Together? Trick Question”

Do you think people are more creative alone or together? It’s an interesting question and one worth thinking about. It turns out that your brain doesn’t care because both are equally important.

In a recent Fast Company article, “Are People More Creative Alone or Together? Trick Question,” authors Judah Pollack and Olivia Fox Cabane look at the research and say the way to maximize creative potential is to flow between being alone and being in a group – in that order.

What are your thoughts on collaboration and brainstorming?

July 31, 2014 / Articles We Like

On "Brainstorming Doesn't Work; Try This Technique Instead"

Are your brainstorming sessions lacking enough original ideas? Most likely your idea generation process could use a small tweak for better results. We suggest reading Brainstorming Doesn’t Work; Try This Technique Instead because this process has been shown to increase the amount of original ideas by 42%!

In the Fast Company article written by Rebecca Greenfield, “Brainstorming Doesn’t Work; Try This Technique Instead,” you’ll learn about brainwriting, a “write first, discuss later” technique for idea generation. This technique avoids the typical problems of groupthink, conformity pressure and encourages creativity.  Try it!

Read it now.

What other techniques are you using to encourage original thinking in brainstorming?

Comment below! Or pose a question via Ask Mariposa.

December 18, 2013 / Design Thinking / Creativity / Innovation

Better Brainstorming for HR Innovation

As an HR leader, you need to come up with innovative ways to energize, develop and retain your workforce.  You need fresh ideas – many useful ideas – as well as an new method for cultivating those fresh ideas.

In a design thinking process, brainstorming plays a key role in cultivating a plethora of fresh ideas. But we aren’t talking about your average run-of-the-mill brainstorming session, with everyone in the room (hopefully) contributing a single idea out loud, one by one.  This is a frenetic, fast-paced process which sets the stage for creativity!

Here are our tips, based on our Breakthrough! Model:

  • Clarify the specific problem upfront. Set the problem for the group before you begin to guide the brainstorming process.  Examples: How might we redesign the entire end-to-end employee experience of performance reviews? How might we create buzz about our company to a certain demographic, so they know us and know good things about us? How do we ensure that non-comp recognition and rewards are tied to retention? How might we redesign our current leadership development program with Millennials in mind? With multi-generational audiences in mind?
  • Encourage imagination.  Ask your team to think broadly and creatively.  The sky is the limit for ideas!
  • Start alone. Give each person some time to write down a bunch of ideas on individual sticky notes by themselves and post for the group.
  • Break into small groups. With smaller groups generating ideas at the same time, groupthink can be avoided, one person can’t dominate the conversation, and idea generation potential multiplies.
  • Each small group member produces an idea…and another…with limited time.  In a small group format, have your team write ideas on sticky notes and share them aloud one by one without comments.  Challenge your team to produce more ideas after a period of time.

This brainstorming process will result in a broad, creative list of ideas, from which to cull further.

For additional tips on frenetic brainstorming and culling the list of ideas, download our Executive Guide to Design Thinking or join us in our NEW Using Design Thinking in HR & Talent Management workshop.

August 1, 2013 / Design Thinking / Creativity / Innovation / Mariposa Articles

Leader as Designer

Learn how to utilize Design Thinking in your role as a leader.  This essay, Leader as Designer, by Mariposa Leadership CEO Sue Bethanis, opens up Design Thinking to different applications and audiences that goes beyond product development. She offers a clear 4 step process to easily move from idea-to-innovation. The results: successful services,  new experiences, and novel solutions to old problems.




May 16, 2013 / Design Thinking / Creativity / Innovation

Get the Most Out of Brainstorming as Part of the Design Thinking Process

breakthrough model copyFaced with a challenging business problem to solve?  You need an idea.  Not just one idea, but many useful ideas.  In our experience, leaders who think like designers by using a design thinking process for solving business problems generate more potential useful ideas than those who do not.

In our work, we take our clients through a design thinking process using our Breakthrough! model. This 4-step process helps leaders generate and execute innovative ideas because it blends practicality with imagination. Through the brainstorming step, it is possible to generate a vast number of ideas – if the session is set up properly.  To get the most out of your brainstorming session, consider these critical success factors:

  • Be clear about the specific problem upfront.  Clarity on the problem guides the brainstorming process.
  • Encourage imagination.  Unconstrained thinking is the backbone of innovation!
  • Break the large group into smaller groups. A large group format limits idea generation as well as lends itself to groupthink and creates a potential scenario in which one person might dominate while others remain silent.
  • Each small group member produces an idea…and another…with limited time.  First individuals generate ideas alone on sticky notes. Then, in a small group format, the ideas are shared/posted aloud quickly without commentary.  Members are then challenged to add a large number of ideas in a limited period of time. With several small groups, the net is cast wide for maximum idea generation potential.

For additional tips on frenetic brainstorming as part of a design thinking process, culling the list of ideas, and other steps in the Breakthrough! model, download our Free Executive Guide to Design Thinking.

April 17, 2013 / Blog / Design Thinking / Creativity / Innovation

Products Are Hard Conference Recap: Design Thinking Process and More!

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The 2013 Products are Hard Conference on April 1st proved to be rich with insights and fresh thinking on the product development process.  More than 200 product designers, developers, marketers, entrepreneurs and executives were treated to stimulating talks throughout the day by various thought leaders, including Mariposa Leadership CEO Sue Bethanis.  Sue presented a design thinking model that leads to breakthrough thinking and therefore has value for leaders beyond product creation.  Attendees participated in a rapid prototyping exercise to get a taste of how a design thinking process can be applied to solve wicked customer or team problems, as our clients have done in our Design Thinking workshop.

We captured brilliant tidbits from the presenters. Here are a few of our favorites:

  •  “LEAN Startups: Learn. Measure. Build.” Janice Fraser, Founder/CEO, LUXr @clevergirl
  • “Hardest part of product management is creating order from chaos. Listen. Learn. Think (dream). Test.” Sarah Rose, VP Product, ModCloth @sarahfrose
  •   “Understand all your customers. Your product must produce value for all of them.” David Charron, Senior Fellow and Lecturer in Entrepreneurship, Haas School of Business @d_charron
  •   “Few things lose investor confidence more than an inability to launch. Better to launch and learn.” Charles Hudson, Venture Partner, SoftTech VC @chudson
  •   “Product building challenge: knowing when working with opinion vs. fact. Turn opinion to hypothesis and test.” Hiten Shah, Co-Founder, KISSmetrics @hnshah
  •   “Using design thinking for services is equally important as using it for products.” Susan Bethanis, Ed.D., CEO and Founder, Mariposa Leadership @suebethanis
  • “If trying to design products for global users, think about similarities in shared social and psychological rewards.” Judd Antin, User Experience Researcher, Facebook @juddantin
  • “Empathy interviewing requires beginner’s mind, getting off your own agenda!” Indi Young, Consultant @indiyoung
  •   “The people who make the product need to fall in love with it first.” Chris Lindland, CEO & Founder, Betabrand @Betabrand

Products are Hard presentation slides are available for viewing.



October 25, 2012 / Design Thinking / Creativity / Innovation / Wise Talk

Wise Talk Recap with Dave Gray on Gamestorming

Mariposa was very pleased to have author and visual thinker Dave Gray on Wise Talk this past Tuesday, discussing Gamestorming with Sue Bethanis, CEO. It was a very fun conversation!

So you might be wondering, what exactly is Gamestorming?

More than just a book or a website, Gamestorming is a set of practices for facilitating innovation in the business world. A facilitator leads a group towards some goal by way of a game, a structured activity that provides scope for thinking freely, even playfully.

A game may be thought of as an alternative to the standard business meeting, one that suspends some of the usual protocols and replaces them with a new set of rules for interaction. On the call with Sue, Dave said, “Playful structure actually helps orchestrate the process of creativity and how you structure group interaction matters a lot.”

During Wise Talk, Dave shared that the book he co-authored with Sunni Brown and James Macanufo, Gamestorming, was originally the internal handbook he used for training consultants. On the call, he also stated, “At the rate which things are changing we must take more of an iteration driven process as opposed to having the perfect plan.”

And we couldn’t agree more.

Peep this short video on Gamestorming and the innovation it can bring to your business:

Ready to play?

For more info and to sign up for future Wise Talks, please visit our website.

We welcome your thoughts in the comments section below.

October 12, 2012 / Book Reviews / Coaching Skills / Design Thinking / Creativity / Innovation / HR / Talent Management / Wise Talk

Gamestorming Game: Design Thinking Through Empathy Mapping

In his book, Gamestorming, Dave Gray along with co-authors Sunni Brown and James Macanufo share more than 80 games to help you break down barriers, communicate better, and generate new ideas, insights, and strategies. They have identified tools and techniques from some of the world’s most innovative professionals, whose teams collaborate and make great things happen. This book is the result: a unique collection of games that encourage engagement and creativity while bringing more structure and clarity to the workplace.

One of the very quick (20 minutes or less) and incredibly helpful games included in the book is creating an Empathy Map as a tool for Design Thinking.

The goal of the game is to gain a deeper level of understanding of a stakeholder in your business ecosystem, which may be a client, prospect, partner, etc., within a given context, such as a buying decision or an experience using a product or service.

Here’s how it can go:

1. Start by drawing a circle to represent the person and give the circle a name and some identifying information such as a job title. It helps if you can think of a real person who roughly fits the profile, so you can keep them in mind as you proceed. In keeping with the idea of a “profile” think of the circle as the profile of a person’s head and fill in some details. You might want to add eyes, mouth, nose, ears, and maybe glasses if appropriate or a hairstyle to differentiate the person from other profiles you might want to create. These simple details are not a frivolous addition — they will help you project yourself into the experience of that person, which is the point of the exercise.

2. Determine a question you have for that stakeholder. If you had a question you would want to ask them, or a situation in their life you want to understand, what would that be? You might want to understand a certain kind of buying decision, for example, in which case your question might be “Why should I buy X?”

3. Divide the circle into sections that represent aspects of that person’s sensory experience. What are they thinking, feeling, saying, doing, hearing? Label the appropriate sections on the image.

4. Now it’s time for you to practice the “empathy” portion of the exercise. As best you can, try to project yourself into that person’s experience and understand the context you want to explore. Then start to fill in the diagram with real, tangible, sensory experiences. If you are filling in the “hearing” section, for example, try to think of what the person might hear, and how they would hear it. In the “saying” section, try to write their thoughts as they would express them. Don’t put your words into their mouth — the point is to truly understand and empathize with their situation so you can design a better product, service or whatever.

5. Check yourself: Ask others to review your map, make suggestions, and add details or context. The more the person can identify with the actual stakeholder the better. Over time you will hone your ability to understand and empathize with others in your business ecosystem, which will help you improve your relationships and your results.

Mariposa Leadership is very excited to welcome Gamestorming author Dave Gray to this month’s Wise Talk where he and Sue Bethanis will discuss the innovative alternative to brainstorming – gamestorming! They will also have a chance to discuss Dave’s new book about how to keep your business on the leading edge, The Connected Company.

Sign up for Wise Talk and join the conversation on Tuesday, October 23rd from 2-3pm PT!

August 20, 2012 / Articles We Like / Design Thinking / Creativity / Innovation / Wise Talk

On "5 Ways to Kill a Brainstorm"

This post summarizes an article written by our August Wise Talk guest, Josh Linkner. This article is titled “5 Way to Kill a Brainstorming Session” and was published on October 5th, 2011. It can be found here.

As we move through each “way” to kill a brainstorming session, please post your thoughts/comments/reflections on Linkner’s process in the comments section below.

Linkner starts by remarking that the corporate culture around brainstorming is one of “shooting

[ideas] down as fast as they come.” He then goes on to outline the five fastest and easiest ways to kill a brainstorming session, and therefore the creativity and culture of innovation within a team or corporation.

This five ways are:

1. Passing judgement or commenting.

2. Tidying up or compartmentalizing a comment out loud.

3. Thinking ahead – how would we execute it, what are the other factors that contribute to its possible success, etc.

4. Worrying.

5. Wandering away from the topics strictly at hand being discussed at that moment.

Do you recognize any of these behaviors in your team? How or when have these behaviors occurred, and in what way did they manifest?

If so, share with our community on how you either combat or work through these behaviors to keep the team dynamic active and healthy, as well as creative.

Still unsure how to move forward? Share these thoughts and concerns on coaching and leadership specifically by posting an Ask Mariposa question.

August 9, 2012 / Design Thinking / Creativity / Innovation / Wise Talk

Q&A with Javy Galindo on the Power of Thinking Differently


Listen to these audio snippets of last month’s July 25th Wise Talk, where professional creativity speaker and thinker, Javy Galindo, answers when Mariposa Leadership’s CEO, Sue Bethanis, asks. Topics are on various aspects of creativity and specifically, creativity in business.

Listen here for Galindo’s elegant juxtaposition of the entrepreneur and the artist, and the ways in which each of them are creative, as well as why it is applicable to business, and life.

Listen here for discussion on relationship building and working in groups, and how this to connects to creativity in the workplace.

Click here to hear the whole discussion between Javy Galindo and Mariposa Leeadership’s CEO, Sue Bethanis.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container] MORE