Brainstorming Doesn't Work: Try Brainwriting at Your Next Meeting

In place of brainstorming, researchers recommend a process called "brainwriting," the general concept being that idea generation and idea discussion should exist separately.

What's the Latest?

Sociologists have long recognized certain problems with brainstorming: shy individuals may resist entering the arena although they have potentially revolutionary ideas and the ideas proposed first hold an undue influence over the direction of the discussion. Loran Nordgren, a professor at Kellogg, calls this phenomenon "anchoring". The problem with first ideas is that "[t]hey establish the kinds of norms, or cement the idea of what are appropriate examples or potential solutions for the problem." Another social phenomena called conformity pressure results in people immediately rallying around whatever idea is presented as a solution to the problem at hand, more often out of our need for social bonds than correct solutions.

What's the Big Idea?

In place of brainstorming, Nordgren recommends a process called "brainwriting," the general concept being that idea generation and idea discussion should exist separately. "Brainstorming works best if before or at the beginning of the meeting, people write down their ideas. Then everyone comes together to share those ideas out loud in a systematic way. ...[P]articipants post all the ideas on a wall, without anyone's name attached and then everyone votes on the best ones." Studies have found that brainwriting groups generated 20% more ideas and 42% more original ideas as compared to traditional brainstorming groups. As you might expect, there's an app for that. It's called Candor and it helps people jot down ideas before meetings. 

Read more at Fast Company

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