Against Brainstorming

11 February 2012 at 6:20 pm 4 comments

| Peter Klein |

Brainstorming appears in many strategy, entrepreneurship, and leadership texts, often mentioned in passing with the implication that it’s a great tool for group decision-making. But the research literature suggests a more circumspect attitude. Indeed, this week’s New Yorker features an interesting and informative essay on some of the latest results:

The underlying assumption of brainstorming is that if people are scared of saying the wrong thing, they’ll end up saying nothing at all. The appeal of this idea is obvious: it’s always nice to be saturated in positive feedback. Typically, participants leave a brainstorming session proud of their contribution. The whiteboard has been filled with free associations. Brainstorming seems like an ideal technique, a feel-good way to boost productivity. But there is a problem with brainstorming. It doesn’t work.

Writer Jonah Lehrer goes on to quote Keith Sawyer: “Decades of research have consistently shown that brainstorming groups think of far fewer ideas than the same number of people who work alone and later pool their ideas.” Lots more at the source.

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Innovation, Management Theory, Myths and Realities. Tags: .

Foss at Missouri Gentle Ben

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