Why brainstorming doesn’t work

So did that last brainstorming session you were in that was meant to generate a hundred ideas deliver? If not, here’s why:

The reasons brainstorming fails are instructive for other forms of group work, too. People in groups tend to sit back and let others do the work; they instinctively mimic others’ opinions and lose sight of their own; and, often succumb to peer pressure. The Emory University neuroscientist Gregory Berns found that when we take a stance different from the group’s, we activate the amygdala, a small organ in the brain associated with the fear of rejection. Professor Berns calls this “the pain of independence.”

This article talks more widely about open plan offices and the private environment that many need to be productive and creative http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/15/opinion/sunday/the-rise-of-the-new-groupthink.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all&. It’s well researched and worth a read.

Oh, and don’t think I am 100% against brainstorms either. Their success or failure is entirely dependent on how the workshop is designed. Follow the tags on brainstorming below to find more on this. 

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