Saturday, April 8, 2017

Brainstorm Betterment

What did people do before 1953 when brainstorming was popularized by Alex F. Osborn in several books in the 1940's.  He wanted creative ideas for ad campaigns and founded the two principles of  defer judgement, and reach for quantity.

He founded 4 general rules
1. Go for quantity
2. Withhold criticism
3 Welcome wild ideas
4. Combine and improve ideas

The first empirical test of Osborn’s brainstorming technique was performed at Yale University, in 1958. Forty-eight male undergraduates were divided into twelve groups and given a series of creative puzzles. The groups were instructed to follow Osborn’s guidelines. As a control sample, the scientists gave the same puzzles to forty-eight students working by themselves. The results were a sobering refutation of Osborn. The solo students came up with roughly twice as many solutions as the brainstorming groups, and a panel of judges deemed their solutions more “feasible” and “effective.” Brainstorming didn’t unleash the potential of the group, but rather made each individual less creative. Although the findings did nothing to hurt brainstorming’s popularity, numerous follow-up studies have come to the same conclusion. Keith Sawyer, a psychologist at Washington University, has summarized the science: “Decades of research have consistently shown that brainstorming groups think of far fewer ideas than the same number of people who work alone and later pool their ideas.”

A search to find the most famous brainstorming session produces no results.  The search on myths about brainstorming produces many hits.  And there are many articles denouncing the 'groupthink' approach that has momentum. 
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