Brainstorming is a group creativity technique designed to generate a large number of ideas for the solution of a problem. In 1953 the method was popularized by Alex Faickney Osborn in a book called Applied Imagination. Osborn proposed that groups could double their creative output with brainstorming.I was surprised to read this criticism of brainstorming in the next paragraph, though:
Although brainstorming has become a popular group technique, researchers have not found evidence of its effectiveness for enhancing either quantity or quality of ideas generated. Because of such problems as distraction, social loafing, evaluation apprehension, and production blocking, brainstorming groups are little more effective than other types of groups, and they are actually less effective than individuals working independently. In the Encyclopedia of Creativity, Tudor Rickards, in his entry on brainstorming, summarizes its controversies and indicates the dangers of conflating productivity in group work with quantity of ideas.I find brainstorming to be a very effective way to solve problems, whether it's with one other person or a group. And I've definitely seen my Destination Imagination teams succeed through brainstorming.
I had a reminder about the domino effect of brainstorming today via the Team Challenges Facebook page. In answering this question:
Name things that are full...One group member said, "decks (for sane people)." This was followed by the next person saying, "a pair and three of a kind - full house."
The allusion to a deck of cards prompted a new line of thought.
I think the key is to allow ideas to flow without any commentary or critique. Nobody in the group is allowed to judge the answers, or say they are stupid, or that they don't fit. They are just words, but hearing them may prompt a new answer, a new idea.
How has brainstorming worked for your group? Do you feel it's an important part of your team's efforts in creativity?