Brainstorming.Works or not?

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I’ve never thought that brainstorming might be so controversial. Then I’ve found this article: Is Brainstorming a waste of time? Let’s talk about brainstorming and its rules.

  1. Generate as many ideas as possible – the more ideas you come up with, the better chance you have of coming up with good ones.
  2. Don’t criticise – it will dampen peoples enthusiasm and kill their creativity.
  3. Welcome unusual ideas – it’s important to break out of your usual mindset and consider wild and wacky ideas if you want to be really creative.
  4. Combine and improve ideas – instead of criticising ideas, look for way to use them in combination and/or make them better.

In my opinion people who don’t like brainstorming and people who like this method have right.

  1. Generate as many ideas as possible.
    So… we should invite as many people as possible…. Seriously? It is the simplest way to generate ideas that sound like: money for everyone. So maybe to get good ideas we need people who are showing that they are interested in solving some problem? Ok, this is difficult. We need creative atmosphere first…
  2. Don’t criticise
    So… money for everyone! We shouldn’t criticise such idea because the rule says: don’t criticise – author said. Brainstorming has no sense – the others shouted. We have invited as many people as possible to generate as many ideas as possible to kill the creativity which should help us to solve the problem. Seriously? Why not to invite people interested in solving the problem to solve the problem? Oh yes… it is difficult. We need creative atmosphere first…
  3. Welcome unusual ideas
    So… money for everyone! ;)
  4. Combine and improve ideas
    So… more money for everyone! ;) Ok. What if people are interested in solving the problem and of course are interested in improving ideas that help to solve the problem? Oh yes… it is difficult. We need creative atmosphere first…

My conclusion is: brainstorming is a method that should connect people (especially when they don’t know each other) with different point of view for the same problems e.g managers, developers, graphics, clients, interested in solving them. The main purpose of brainstorming shouldn’t be the longest list with ideas but knowledge sharing. Who knows, maybe one day it will pay off?  We could measure the effectiveness in terms of number of ideas but we will never measure how we influence others.

It is difficult. We need creative atmosphere first. This is the challenge for leader.

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2 thoughts on “Brainstorming.Works or not?

  1. Kamil, I agree with a need of creative atmosphere and I am also a big fan of knowledge sharing. However, I do understand brainstorm session in a bit different way.

    The knowledge sharing is not a purpose of brainstorm session. The objective of brainstorm is well known. The same with brainstorm rules, its idealized definition or critique. After 10-20 brainstorm sessions with different people on various problems I know that I am not a brainstorm specialist. But I do know what I need:

    1. Constructing brainstorm process (I really like this quote: “brainstorming only makes a difference if it is part of a larger creative process, as you see at IDEO, Pixar, and other places that do real creative work.”)
    2. Adapting brainstorm session to participants (including opposite rules to idealized ones)
    3. Don’t miss a problem – neither the longest list of tasks nor knowledge sharing, we want to solve something and the brainstorm session is an only potential (not obligatory) tool

    In summary, I would not like to be a leader these days :-)

  2. We may distinguish two different approaches, when we are talking about brainstorm:
    – we are strict to the definition because we need to compare different ways of thinking. Engineers love numbers, comparisons, charts – we need them to live ;)
    – we are trying to adopt the definition to different work environment (implement adapter for the same core) because well-known brainstorm is irrelevant for IT market but the core is interesting.

    I have tried to implement an adapter for such core:
    – meetings with people with different point of view
    – cooperation instead of commands
    – knowledge sharing (intentional or not)
    – chance for ideas that help to solve problem

    P.S
    Alex Faickney Osborn – an advertising executive – was the first person who describes brainstorming.

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