Over the years the term “brainstorming” has fallen out of favor.
An image of people throwing spaghetti against the wall to see if it will stick – meaning throwing out ideas to see if they have any merit – is likely to induce fond memories among old-timers who remember when brainstorming was all the rage.
But, done properly, brainstorming still works.
What is Brainstorming?
Brainstorming was the creation of Alex Osborn, a founder of my former agency, BBDO (formerly ). He posited that a group could generate more creative ideas for solving a problem than an individual. There’s been a lot of controversy over the years about his methodology, with research both for and against it.
The New York Times last Sunday carried a very long story entitled The Rise of the New Groupthink in which the writer, Susan Cain, debunks the current trend of people working in teams in open space – or possibly cubicles if they’re lucky – as they collaborate on projects. She champions the introvert who needs quiet and privacy to be creative. I think she makes some valid points
When Brainstorming Works
Where Cain and I diverge, though, is when she writes, “Conversely, brainstorming sessions are one of the worst possible ways to stimulate creativity…people in groups tend to sit back and let others do the work; they instinctively mimic other’s opinions and lose sight of their own; and often succumb to peer pressure.”
I beg to differ. I’ve participated in, and facilitated, numerous brainstorming sessions, which I prefer to call group problem solving sessions. They generated many original ideas that were successfully implemented. Read More→