Lean Blog Interviews — 389: Elisabeth Swan on the Problems With Brainstorming and Why “Structure Sets You Free”

Author, podcaster, and consultant


My guest for Episode #389 is Elisabeth Swan. She is the co-author of The Problem-Solver’s Toolkit and co-host of the Just-in-Time Cafe Podcast. As her bio says, she’s “been helping people successfully build their problem-solving muscles for over 30 years, and she loves what she does every single day.”

In the episode, we discuss brainstorming, using an article she wrote for GoLeanSixSigma.com as the starting point: “Green Belts: Group Brainstorming Is a Waste of Time.” Why has classic brainstorming proven to be ineffective, especially in the context of Lean, Six Sigma, or process improvement? And how can it be better given the reality of remote teams?

The conversation also veers into talking about Elisabeth’s history in improv comedy and how lessons from the improv approach influence her to this day. Why does “structure set you free” in improv or Lean Six Sigma? We’ll talk about that and more.