Naming and the problems of groupthink


Modern Copy were asked to help with a naming workshop at a large broadcaster recently. The workshop was run by Roy Langmaid, an organisational psychologist  with long experience of getting large groups into creative ways of thinking. Naming is a strange beast: the name is probably in the list you’ll create on the day, but often it’s hard to spot. The real issue is to get people to volunteer every idea that they have, out loud and in front of their peers.

Roy pinpoints three areas where brainstorming in large groups can often fall down.

1: Groupthink – A conformity and narrowing of ideas.

2: Production blocking – While one person is talking, others are blocked from creating.

3: Social loafing – Letting one talkative person do all the work while you sit and watch.

The answer lies in balancing individual and group delivery in a fast and enjoyable way, using the speed of lone working with the cleverness of crowds to strip out the fat. Interestingly, these three ideas seem most common when the group knows each other well and are comfortable in their places.

Perhaps this is the strongest reason you can have to hire in help when it comes to naming. Purely internal efforts are just a reflection of how you work in the everyday: using an external force to take a lead in speaking their mind and spilling out interesting views or opinions. They may not be right, and they may not have the depth of the experience in your field, but that’s missing the point.

Apostrophe, not catastrophe

How to make bad apostrophe use even more obvious

How not to use your apostrophe

Apostrophe misuse is a strange thing. You feel like a pedant, but you know it’s doing good for the world. It’s more like the offside rule than anything else: people seem to understand innately what should be done, but somehow expressing it neatly causes a major case of the shakes.

Raise your glasses – not glass’s, please – to the simplicity of the rule that is expressed by the Dreaded Apostrophe website. All you need to remember is this: use an apostrophe when a letter is missing. Of course, there are caveats. But the major exception is explained by the website in an understandable way, even though it goes all the way back to Chaucerian English and Germanic word roots. Don’t be scared off, it’s the kind of thing you’ll never forget. Unlike the offside rule.