Fostering creativity: is brainstorming a myth?

By William Seidman Many thanks to Joseph Friedman of JMJ Associates who turned me on Jonah Lehrer’s well-written and interesting New Yorker article, “Groupthink : the Myth of Brainstorming.” Lehrer asserts that the strict interpretation of brainstorming as quickly throwing out ideas, with no processing, as a good means of generating ideas isn’t supported by the research. Pure brainstorming does less well at generating great ideas than other approaches. Similarly though, completely individual work or work in newly formed teams isn’t supported either. What is supported is a middle ground of generating ideas but getting into a kind of creative friction about them. People generate ideas ideally from lots of different disciplines and perspectives, but work them intensely. Our Discovery process, even though we sometimes call it brainstorming, really is more in this middle ground. The goal isn’t really to be creative but to give the positive deviants a way to convert unconscious competence into something in the open. It is brainstorming as stimulus to existing knowledge, and it’s incredibly productive.]]>

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