Here’s a question – Brainstorming; a fantastic way to create group rapid idea inspiration, or harmful to the creative process with better, original ideas created by individuals and small groups?
What you say????
We’ve all been involved in brainstorming sessions at some point, whether this as a creative team or as a common corporate business activity. And while this process may not be as popular nowadays – it is still a valid way to whip up a frenzy of ideation.
Invented way back by US advertising exec extremeo Alex Osborn, this concept gained traction in the 1950s -then steam-rollered its way through corporate culture in the 1960’s – 90s.
If you don’t know it’s based on psychological research that says that simply being in a group can motivate individuals, and the idea that a larger volume of ideas will eventually lead to quality ones. The model also says that brainstorming should be conducted as an informal and unstructured process where people…
1) Generate as many ideas as possible;
2) Prioritise new or unusual ideas;
3) Combine and refine the ideas; and don’t criticise the ideas that come about while brainstorming.
I have read, that Osborn himself claimed that brainstorming could improve creative performance by almost 50 percent versus people thinking individually.
So what’s up with that then – it sounds great. Winner-winner.
But on the other hand recent research says…
People can be uncomfortable voicing creative ideas in a group setting
– I’ve been in many a session where the ‘real creative’ thinkers in the room have totally been crushed out by the loudest (or most charismatic) speaker, continually hammering home a concept until the group deflate and finally concede.
People think at different speeds and not everyone excels at rapid idea generation.
– I put myself in this category – personally I like to chew on aspects of an idea like a hard toffee and roll it around my head, stick it on the bed post and come back to it afresh another day.
Brilliant ideas come to people at random times, often when they are not specifically thinking about a problem.
– I had one of my best ever ideas whilst washing dishes in the kitchen, I nearly fainted I was so giddy with glee.
Or the worst but maybe most common brainstorming outcome of all – the multi-headed hydra route. 3 or 4 obvious routes mutated together in the hope of appeasing the room whilst achieving a unique outcome – normally with utterly disastrous consequences.
We’ve all seen this one right?
So, I’d say personally, it’s not for me and a solo effort will produce more authentic results. But I’d never be the one to p*ss on your creative chips and tell you otherwise. I bet there’s loads out there who’ve recently achieved great things by throwing things into the ‘ideas wok’. I too, have also been part of teams which have rolled over the creative rock of barren ideas with brain storming – but maybe I’ve found it to be a more draining process.
… then again, I am sure there may be those who say it doesn’t matter how you got there it’s the destination that counts.
Still unsure yourself??? – here’s a link to a highly entertaining old radio documentary from mid 2000s Radio 4 all about Brainstorming and its outcomes from legendary journalist and documentary maker ‘Jon Ronson‘. Which if you’ve got a little time to spare, is far more enlightening and could help make you make up your mind.
Listen to Jon Ronson on Brainstorming here on his official website
(no SSL on this site tho – sorry!)
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