Why use Candor?

Candor is a tool designed to help groups (between 3-30 people) generate ideas and make difficult decisions.

The benefits

Candor will help your team to produce more ideas — it will allow you to expand your idea database, it will help you to generate more diverse or creative ideas, it will reveal people's unbiased points of view, and Candor is extremely efficient, so you can spend less time in meetings and more time getting things done.

Problems with Traditional Brainstorming

Low Idea Diversity. In a traditional brainstorming session, people simply throw out ideas that come to mind. One problem with this approach is that the first idea put on the table often becomes a point of fixation. This is referred to as "anchoring." Anchoring kills creativity in meetings. For example, I recently observed a brainstorming session in which the goal was to come up with a team building exercise to improve company culture. The first idea put on the table was to volunteer with a charity, like Habitat for Humanity. This activates the concept of "charity" in everyone's mind, making related ideas top-of-mind. The second idea was to participate in a 5K race to raise money for charity, and the third was to participate in a program that builds playgrounds in low economy communities. Did you notice how all these ideas are similar? Traditional brainstorming kills idea diversity.

Biased Opinions. Humans are social animals, and as social animals we have a strong desire to be part of the group and not stand alone. When a majority of room supports an idea, people with a different point-of-view, even when armed with strong arguments, rarely speak up. This leads the team to miss out on crucial information. In the example above, the first idea was to volunteer for charity. Notice how this communicates some norms about what is an appropriate team-building exercise. It says, we should be thinking about serious, service-oriented activities. Several participants later confided that they favored a fun activity, like a group outing at the beach, but they didn't speak up for fear of being judged by the group.

Inefficient Process. Traditional brainstorming is extremely inefficient for two reasons. First, in an 8-person team, generally 2-3 people will do 80% of the talking. You can't possibly maximize the creative potential in the room when an minority dominate the conversation. Second, in the typical meeting ideas are generated sequentially. The team might spend 10 minutes discussing the merits of the first idea put on the table before turning to the second idea. When ideas are discussed one at a time, only a handful of ideas can be brought to the table in a 60 minute meeting.

Benefits of Candor

Candor works by decoupling the generation of ideas from the evaluation of ideas. This means that people generate ideas privately at the beginning of the meeting, before they learn the opinions of the other people in the room. The team then reviews all the ideas generated by the team before evaluate those ideas. Because this is far more efficient process, a lot more ideas are put on the table. Candor avoids the problem of anchoring, which increases the diversity.

This process neutralizes all the problems associated with traditional brainstorming. People's candid, unbiased views come to light because they generate ideas free of social pressure. Candor generates more diverse or creative ideas because people don't get fixated on the first idea that's put on the table. Reviewing all the ideas at the beginning of the meeting gives everyone a voice, maximizing the creative potential in the room. And it leads to shorter meetings. The ability to see the whole picture allows the team to quickly zoom in on the most promising ideas.