Press/Media items

Research mention: "Why Brainstorming Groups Kill Breakthrough Ideas (and What to Do Instead)"

Press/Media: Public Engagement ActivitiesPopular

09/02/2018

Over a half a century ago, Alex Osborne wrote an influential book called Applied Imagination that opined that "the average person can think up twice as many ideas when working with a group than when working alone." Managers must have been convinced because brainstorming groups took off in popularity and are still used widely to this day. In fact, in business schools it is almost heretical to argue that teams are not more creative than individuals.

The only problem is that Osborne was wrong. Dozens of laboratory studies tried to confirm Osborne's claim, but found the opposite: brainstorming groups produced fewer ideas, and ideas of less novelty, than the sum of the ideas created by the same number of individuals working alone. 

How could this be? Aren't ideas supposed to cross-fertilize, coming up with new and unusual hybrids through a process sometimes referred to as idea sex? It turns out group idea sex is of the ho-hum variety; more exciting ideas come from going solo.

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