To Brainstorm or not to Brainstorm? What a Stupid Question

Posted on February 3, 2012


Someone writes one little New York Times article and all hell breaks loose.

Since Susan Cain, author of the soon-to-be-released book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,” wrote an article titled “The Rise of the new Groupthink,” which puts forth the idea that people are more creative alone than in groups, suddenly I see a flood of articles proclaiming the death of brainstorming.

Cain points to examples like Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak who once said, ” Work alone… Not on a committee. Not on a team,” as a prime example of how important it is for creative geniuses to be left alone.

That’s great except we all aren’t Steve Wozniak.

Now anyone who ever worked for me knows I am a big fan of the brainstorming session. What you may not realize is that I am also a fan of people creating quietly in their own little part of the world away from groups.

As a matter of fact, I’m in favor of people creating anywhere, anytime any way they can.

Blanket statements like “creative people work better in groups,” or “creative people work better alone,” or “creative people work better with chihuahua’s at their feet” are all bunk. There is no one right or wrong formula for fostering creativity. If there was we’d have found it by now.

The best way to foster creativity is to create new situations that cause different synapses to fire in the brain. That can be taking an introvert and putting them in a group or forcing an extrovert to work alone for a change. It can be including someone from accounting into a programming oriented brainstorm or taking a weekend away to visit a city you’ve never seen before.

Anything that spurs new thought has merit as part of the creative process.

So if you are in a rut don’t jump into a brainstorming session nor run away from one. Just do something new and different and see what happens.

Whether you do it alone or in a group I think you’ll find the results to be quite rewarding.