You're not the only one that hates brainstorming

Is brainstorming ever not a soul sucking waste of time? Richard Huntington doesn't think so. He says (via Lateral Thinking):
I hate brainstorms.

I hate running them, I hate contributing to them and I hate using them to solve problems.

They waste huge amounts of time and talent and they are no f***ing good at delivering decent ideas.

Okay then. It turns out there is research to back this up. Most of the research shows that groups individuals working alone will generate more ideas that those working together. But as Bob Sutton points out this research is flawed.

The academic research on brainstorming -- the laboratory studies that are described as showing it doesn't work -- are rigorous but irrelevant. They compare how many ideas individuals working alone versus versus working in groups can utter into a microphone in the same stretch of time. This is irrelevant and silly, as the practical norm that people take turns talking seems to explain why people are more productive alone -- so this research rules out LISTENING TO OTHERS as productive behavior. Also, the way those studies are done makes it impossible for people to build on each others' ideas -- because building on the ideas of others is impossible when you work alone.
So is Brainstorming worth it? I can be if it's done right. Companies Like Pixar and IDEO have created some of the most imaginative films and products using brainstorming as a part of their process. According to Tom Kelly the General Manager of IDEO:
Brainstorming is practically a religion at IDEO, one we practice nearly every day. Though brainstorms themselves are often playful, brainstorming as a tool - as a skill - is taken quite seriously. And in a company without many rules, we have a very firm idea about what constitutes a brainstorm and how it should be organised.
So what makes a good brainstorming session? Honestly I still struggle with it. But here are seven secrets to good brainstorming and six sure fire ways to kill a brainstorm.

How do you brainstorm?

photo by: Khilwat

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