Brainstorming As A Group Not Effective

Thursday, September 2, 2010, AM | Leave Comment

A new study “Idea generation and the quality of the best idea” from Wharton School of Management suggests that group thinking is detrimental to a company’s health in terms of new ideas. Traditionally, companies have encouraged group brainstorming.

Some have sent managers and senior employees to resort areas to think collectively and come up with some solutions to whatever problems the company might be facing at the time.

In essence, the study suggests “Group thinking is out, individual thinking is in.” More quality ideas get generated by individual thinking than if they were to sit down together and try to come up with a quality idea that the company can use to further its financial and market objectives.

Developing one-of-a-kind products, money-saving strategies or effective marketing plans can come from individual thinking better than group thinking. The latter often kills initial innovative thoughts that stem from individuals’ unbiased opinions.

Why “Group thinking is out, individual thinking is in”…

Employees in a team-based brainstorming process may censor themselves to fit in with their peers or supervisor. Group brainstorming may also result in conversation dominated by the least creative individuals in the room.

Employees may tune out of the process if they know their voices will not be heard or may be happy in letting others do the “heavy lifting” if they are not expected to contribute equally.

However, being a good business person may not have anything to do where the quality idea came from an individual thinking or group thinking.

The important thing is to act upon the idea and implement it in the business process for the benefit of the business and not the individual.

In a Nutshell
There are huge differences in people’s levels of creativity. Whether the creativity in product and business comes from individual thinking or group thinking, the business person must implement the idea into the company’s business process.

If the study’s finding is true, then all those companies that are sending their managers to resort areas for collective brainstorming is a waste of the company’s money and resources. The study finding is too late for AIG.

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