Is Brainstorming Still A Good Business Strategy?

Brainstorming sessions serve as a time to collaborate and problem-solve for those with careers in business. Research has suggested that this practice is not simply a eureka moment, rather it is a series of small steps taken to get from one idea to another. This is why brainstorming has traditionally been done in large groups, giving everyone involved the opportunity to run with ideas and contribute from one idea to the next. However, new research suggests that this problem-solving method is not necessarily a highly creative experience for everyone involved. In fact, the traditional method of brainstorming in some situations encourages a lack of creativity.

Conventional Brainstorming
Brainstorming is critical for most companies as profit often relies on new products. Therefore, for companies in almost any industry, innovation is key. The problem is many brainstorming sessions don't lead to innovative ideas. Instead, perhaps counterintuitively, these creative sessions lead to predictable solutions. This is due to a concept called conformity pressure. Essentially, many brainstorm sessions begin with one person making a simple and expected suggestion and then others anchor to it rather than bring their own ideas to the table. Hence, the first ideas generally get the most attention and occupy the most time, so when the meeting is concluded, it has usually come to a predictable end. This takes up a lot of quality work time and ultimately does not lead to new ideas. 

The concept of brainstorming can still be an effective strategy when it is adjusted. Brainwriting can be executed in several ways, but it comes down to the main idea that each student or colleague should write down their individual ideas before entering the meeting room. This gives every person the opportunity to formulate unique ideas and participate in the creative process. Once everyone has taken the time to work on the problem on their own, ideas can be shared verbally, compiled into a list or written out on a chalk or dry erase board. This generates a larger quantity of ideas, so when discussion takes place following the writing exercise, there are more options for moving forward.

This article is sponsored by Western Governors University, a nonprofit, accredited, online university. WGU offers online bachelor degree programs in business and online MBA programs. To find out more, please visit

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