"Brainstorming is a group creativity technique designed to generate a large number of ideas for the solution to a problem. The method was first popularized in the late 1930s by Alex Faickney Osborn, an advertising executive and one of the founders of BBDO, in a book called Applied Imagination. Osborn proposed that groups could double their creative output by using the method of brainstorming." -Wikipedia Article on Brainstorming
Group Brainstorming - a Bad Idea?
A Teampedia review by jana z of the article by Jonah Lehrer in the New Yorker, January 30, 2012: “Groupthink, The brainstorming myth”
In the 1940’s book “Your Creative Power,” a partner in a Madison Avenue advertising agency revealed what he considered his company’s central secret to innovation and success: the group “brainstorm.” He said that “using the brain to storm a creative problem . . . in commando fashion, with each stormer attacking the same objective” brings about the most and best ideas possible.
The group exercise he promoted, which stipulated that each idea must meet no criticism, became the most widely used creativity technique worldwide. It is still used in many corporate and academic settings.
But, according to scientific research cited in that New Yorker article, brainstorming does not work very well. Lehrer discusses other approaches that are considered successful for stimulating creativity in a group. One famous example was “Building 20,” a location in which a conglomeration of offices and shops were in close physical proximity. In it, diverse people involved in various fields found that their ongoing, unplanned mingling was key to stimulating creativity and productivity.
What have your experiences been with group brainstorming? Is it successful for your team? Have you found ways to make group brainstorming worthwhile?