Thursday, July 22, 2010


"Brainstorming...has been proven not to work since 1958, when Yale researchers found that the technique actually reduced a team's creative output: the same number of people generate more and better ideas separately than together."

Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, "The Creativity Crisis," Newsweek, July 19, 2010.

Does this mean no more break out groups, no more flip charts, no more multi-colored stickies? What about collective wisdom? Collaborative genius? What about the mixed approach of working individually for five minutes doing your own brainstorming and then sharing?

I think we need to look more closely at the research cited in this provocative sidebar. Are we prepared to throw out brainstorming without more of a fight?

Here's another one: "Don't tell someone to be creative." Instead: "Do something only you would come up with -- that none of your friends or family would think of." Does that really work?

1 comment:

Susan Crandall said...

I suspect the real value of the multi-colored stickies and breakout groups is not generating more - or even better - ideas, but rather gaining buy-in for the *implementation* of the ideas. A mixed approach seems worthwhile - such as the Nominal Group Technique.

An interesting twist on your last suggestion would be to ask participants to generate ideas that go against the grain of current accepted thinking for that particular issue. This would need to be done anonymously of course.