Ordered List

Saturday 5 May 2007

In his book the Medici Effect, Frans Johansson provides evidence from a couple of studies that show that brainstorming together in a group has never been as effective as a virtual group where the members brainstorm individually and then pool their ideas together. Of the 25 reported experiments by psychologists all over the world, real groups have never once been shown to be more productive than virtual groups. Creative productivity in terms of both number and quality is a lot higher when we think alone and then pool up, than when we work together. Worrying stuff when you consider that group brainstorming is de rigeur in consulting.

However on further reflection I think Johansson misses the secondary point of group brainstorming, which I'd suggest is motivation and team building. In reality people aren't great at self-organisation and most of the members of a team would lack the motivation or skills to really spend time successfully brainstorming on their own. It would require far too much centralised management and most of the group would likely free ride off the one or two individuals that took it seriously. Imagine me suggesting that all the people interested in helping out, go away to brainstorm on their own and then post me the results. Compare that with arranging an evening where we all met and brainstormed together. Overall I reckon there'd be a higher participation rate, and even if the output wasn't as great as for if we'd all brainstormed individually and pooled up, it'd still be a lot better than doing it alone.

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