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Keith Harmeyer

Excellent post and absolutely true. The key factor that makes brainstorming less effective than it might be is poor facilitation, which is almost universal. In our research we find that fewer than 90% of people surveyed have ever had any training in group brainstorming. It is completely naive to assume that an activity as complex as group ideation will just "happen" without a skilled leader guiding the process. It precisely this kind of training that we offer at SmartStorming. Thanks again for a great post!


Thanks so very much for taking your time to create this very useful and informative site. I have learned a lot from your site. Thanks!!h


Thanks so very much for taking your time to create this very useful and informative site. I have learned a lot from your site. Thanks!!n


This website is Great! I will recommend you to all my friends. I found so much useful things here. Thank you.

Idris Mootee

This is pretty silly issue to debate about in the first place. It all depends on the quality of individual participants, the mix and the atmosphere. Brainstorming in a corporate board room will surely deminish the return of creativity. One other thing is you need a balance of domain knwoledge and outsiders objectivity. It is all common sense.


Hi Bob, can you point me to your ethnographic research on brainstorming please. Sounds facinating.

Amit Dixit

Brainstorming, is good - give us lot of different direction to think, challenges your own thoughts etc....Group Brainstorming is even better - only if, every one in the group looking for the solution rather than showing their intellect.!............Because most of the topics on which ppl do brainstorming are quite subjective...people will continue doing brainstorming on them as their is no perfect right or wrong answer for them........But brainstorming on the Topic brainstorming really sucks!

Dr. Rod King

I've been doing extensive research on techniques and methodologies for generating ideas and I very much support the position taken above by Robert Sutton. Brainstorming should be done individually such as in the "brainwriting" technique and in groups such as in classic brainstorming. I feel that the question of individual vs. group brainstorming boils down to the issue of individual vs. collective knowledge base for generating ideas. In theory, greater and higher quality ideas are more likely to be generated when using a group's knowledge base than when using an individual's knowledge base. In practice, however, some individuals better extract their ideas alone than when externally prompted such as by a facilitator with little domain-specific experience.
My final word: if a brainstorming facilitator is as skillful as an individual is in extracting ideas from the pit of that individual's knowledge base, then group brainstorming will at least be useful to that individual. Otherwise, group brainstorming will be seen as an impediment rather than an enhancer in generating greater and higher quality ideas. To better reflect on this issue, we might consider the question: How can we best extract ideas that lie deep in the knowledge bases of individuals? After all, insights and ideas are generated in 'individual' heads, not in 'group' heads.

Best regards,


i do belive in the mix, though brainstorming is difficult to do well! at least,i havn't got it down yet! the ideo tip bit's in ten faces and art of innovation, are enticing but still difficult to apply in a busy workplace. how do you keep it short and effective? anybody got some good reading tips!?

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