Brainstorming Does Not Work
Kevin Ashton

I’m always up for some healthy iconoclasm and I have felt the dread of arriving at a meeting and seeing a heap of unused PostIt notes on the table.

When the book quoted was written, one could well imagine that ideas weren’t explored and nurtured at all, but maybe things have changed. Maybe the brainstorm just needs “updating a little”, not throwing out with the bathwater.

And of course, if you look at a brainstorm’s functions on paper, then you may be missing the point. There are lots of other hidden things happening in a brainstorm that have value… For example:

a. Maybe working in a group isn’t as effective as working alone to generate ideas, but, and I have definitely felt that many people need AT LEAST ONE collaborator to generate lots of good ideas or move them on. And in a group, there are, lots of ONE collaborators for each member. If you get my drift. A group is a way hoping their are lots of “pairings” of idea generators.

b. Some really gifted people need someone to show off to before they get really good. A group can achieve that audience for the soloist to pull out their best riff. Hey, we all felt we contributed but…

c. Brainstorms, despite the “all ideas count” idea are a place for everyone to get together and have the same innevitable ideas and THEN collaboratively rank and filter them. The idea generating stage was more about generating consensus ( because we all had the same ideas ) and then agreeing a strategy ( because we all agree these are the best five ideas we made ). If some of the ideas in there are new, all the better, if not, it was still useful.

d. Everyone loves a PostIt note. Just getting people around the table without the dreary chore of having to get something done, can develop relationships that will be used later on. You never know.

Most importantly, everyone likes to feel they’re creative don’t they?

p.s Then again, most people say that the creative process of Lennon and McCartney was that each would turn up with their own songs close to being finished and the “working together” or brainstorming part was but the gloss on an already developed idea.