Introduction on Flickr

Why do professional networking events always start with introductions? Same with conference calls! Introductions are harmful. Especially when you’re trying to harness the collective brainpower of a group. After an introduction, you’re immediately put into a bucket. Lawyers in one, programmers in another, the unemployed in a third. Instead of judging people based on the merit of their ideas, you’re subconsciously judging them based on their background and experiences.

Last night I helped put on House of Genius. Instead of introductions, we got down to business. When we started exploding ideas into actionable next-steps, nobody knew if the suggestion was coming from the CTO of a half-billion dollar company or an extremely intelligent high school dropout from a broken home. It was great. Only at the end did everyone reveal their background and their occupation (or lack thereof). Everyone was surprised at the caliber of ideas coming from unlikely candidates.

It’s human nature to put people into buckets and judge. So think about how you can change the underlying structure of your organization or event to create an environment where people are judged solely on the merit of their ideas.