Is Brainstorming a Waste of Time?

Mark McGuiness on his blog, Lateral Action, asks the question, ‘Is brainstorming a waste of time?’  He produces a number of serious critics who hate brainstorms and claim that there is little evidence that they work.   The main criticisms are:

  • Not enough good ideas
  • Lack of critical filters
  • Inhibition
  • Freeloading
  • Taking turns
  • Group think
  • He then introduce arguments from the believers in brainstorms who claim that a well-run brainstorm will produce good ideas.  His conclusion is this;

    ‘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. ‘

    I disagree.  I believe that a well-facilitated brainstorm will generally produce great ideas for a well stated problem.  The question of whether individuals can produce better ideas on their own is beside the point.  It is a bit like arguing that the 11 players in a soccer team would get more exercise if they all went jogging instead of playing soccer.  The point is that both approaches are valid, worthwhile and different.  They are both 100 times better than doing nothing!

    Paul Sloane

    P.S. There are more comments on this at the Mindjet blog.

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    1 comment to Is Brainstorming a Waste of Time?

    • Brainstorming can be a great way of generating ideas. In product or service idea creation it can work well. In problem solving it is of limited value unless the team as used some prior tools such as Ideal Final Result to focus the solution area a little or uses the 40 principles as triggers.