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Is Brainstorming Broken?

Innovation is the buzz word and expectation in every growing business today.  We are constantly striving to generate new ideas and spark creativity.  The most common method is to call for a brainstorming session.  Gather a group together, present the challenge and expect "earth shaking" results in an hour.  But sometimes brainstorming just doesn't work.  Could there be a better way?  

Dr. Tony MCCaffery suggests that there is no evidence that brainstorming works.  He offers a different approach that will generate hundreds more practical ideas in just minutes.  Check out his video. 

He suggests that the premise of talking through problems and ideas is not as effective as expecting people to write out their ideas, then submit them for others to consider.  The written form allows for all ideas to be considered and the introverted personalities gain an opportunity to have their suggestions presented.  His research indicates that the ideas are more practical and everyone involved is invested in the process.

I see his point, but disagree that the exercise of talking it out is the reason brainstorming doesn't work.  In my experience, talking through the challenges and hearing other perspectives often helps us gain understanding.  It also helps us generate greater levels of collaboration and cooperation.  

Brainstorming can be effective when you give people time to think, expect them to write out their ideas and read others ideas before they come to a brainstorming session.  The time for contemplation prior to the conversation is what makes the process more meaningful.  

Well, what do you think?

 

-- Steven Iwersen

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