Storm designed by Alex Sheyn from the Noun Project

Storm designed by Alex Sheyn from the Noun Project

Brainstorming doesn’t always work for generating worthwhile ideas. But why? Over at Medium, Mikael Cho unveils the science behind the myth of brainstorming, and what you can do to ensure your next brainstorming session actually works for generating ideas:

Many brainstorming sessions are thought of as an end goal — that an answer needs be drawn at its conclusion for it to have ‘worked.’ If the perfect idea doesn’t show itself by the end of the meeting, the brainstorming session is usually deemed a failure.

This is in spite of research that show the optimal process for creativity is not within a single group setting…

Sometimes the incubation stage itself can take days or weeks before you get a feeling that a good idea is on the way. Many of the most creative people in the world validate this, reporting they only arrive at the best solutions after a constant zig zag through alternatives.

Start with alone time… follow with a group session.

To make brainstorming sessions more effective, it’s vital that we give ourselves time away from the problem and work around it in order to allow for natural, creative incubation to occur.

Hoping that getting people together in a room to shoot ideas back and forth without having first thought deeply about the task at hand is just one problem with brainstorming, but it’s undoubtedly the biggest one. By first allowing yourself and participants to ruminate on problems before a group discussion, you’re allowing concepts to evolve that would otherwise be squashed in a group setting (where the pressure of peers or time hinder creativity).


RelatedHow to Actually Brainstorm Productively

  • Be-Creative Guru

    Knowing who to involve in a brainstorm is critical too. The majority of people does not have the ability to come up with creative ideas. But it can be learned. I am compiling a list of easy creative techniques on my blog too.

  • clover

    I really love this article. Just as sometimes the meeting AFTER the meeting is where the action really is, the internal brainstorming before or after the brainstorming session is often where the really great creative ideas emerge.

    I’ve actually taken to recording a voice memo of brainstorming sessions and then listening to it on my iPhone while walking outside. Something about being in motion, being outside, having some time to think about what’s been discussed, etc., really gets my creativity flowing.

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