Brainstorming in Problem Solving Workshops

Herb Kelman

Professor Emeritus, Program on Negotiation, Harvard University

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

The next phase, the next element of the agenda, is discussion of constraints, which are extremely important, the political constraints, and the two sides need each other to understand that, the public opinion on the other side. This is something that the parties in conflict generally don't understand. They understand their own public opinion very well, they know what the constraints are, but they kind of seem to think that the other can operate without constraints. I prefer not to do too much of that in the earlier phases, like in the joint thinking phase, because this is sort of consistent with the whole logic of brainstorming, you don't want people to chop off potentially creative ideas right at the start. I don't want them to say that this will never work. I say lets leave that for the moment and see if we in this room can agree on something, and come up with a formula. Then we ask if it can work, if not, why not, and what can we do about it.