The Perfect Brainstorm – Part 1

The perfect metaphor?

In building a knowledge supply chain model for purposes of enterprise innovation we have used a technique involving an exercise we call “The Perfect Brainstorm”. Although this exercise is only a part of the overall process, it provides a very useful metaphor for illustrating possibilities… opportunities that are often imminently available to our client, but the client has not yet built the kind of mindset needed to see “what’s already there”.

The Perfect Storm

The phrase perfect storm refers to the simultaneous occurrence of conditions or circumstances which when combined generate an epic powerful weather event. The implication of the phrase perfect storm is if these same conditions are taken individually, the result would be far less powerful than the result of their chance combination. Such occurrences are rare by their very nature, so that even a slight change in any one event contributing to the perfect storm would lessen its overall impact.

As a point of reference, the real life event known as the 1991 Halloween Nor’easter was an example of a perfect storm. There was a book, a movie, and countless articles on this particular event, in part due to its tragic consequences. But the fascination for this phenomenon was probably more due to how it exemplified the ultimate and awesome power of Mother Nature, created by what the weather guys called “perfect conditions” for such a monumental event. It is an interesting phenomenon in its own right (see the story)Eye of the Storm 2

In this case the simultaneously converging conditions have been described as… “the merging of two low-pressure areas, a large flow of warm air from the south, cold air from the north, and moisture feeding into the storm from the Gulf stream all conflated with cold air from strong northwesterly winds and warm air from strong northeasterly winds to create an exceptionally powerful storm across a very large area.” The perfect storm resulted.

The Perfect Brainstorm

With a vision in mind for creating milestone enterprise innovation… we might use the metaphor of the perfect brainstorm.

For sake of discussion, let’s imagine the simultaneous converging of the most appropriate individuals, possessing the most appropriate roles in the enterprise, working within the framework of the most appropriate business processes, using the most appropriate technologies, and working in the most appropriate socioeconomic environment that is conducive to producing milestone, epic results for the enterprise.

Mix all of that with a little luck and bit of chance… and you may get something special. At least that is a popular stereotype of what it takes for amazing innovation to happen. The perfect brainstorm at 3M produced post-it notes. Other perfect brainstorms have produced…

  • Velcro
  • Penicillin
  • The “Xerox” machine
  • “Just do it” (the Nike marketing phrase)
  • Gatorade
  • the internet
  • Google

And on and on…

Can a business experience a perfect brainstorm? Not only do we know this is possible, we have ourselves been in the middle of these phenomenon with our clients – more than a few times. [See The Perfect Brainstorm Part 2…The metaphor becomes a tool]


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