Article 032: Think independently then brainstorm together

The very best ideas are developed carefully, and often, independent of others.

In a study conducted at Yale in 1958, 48 students were divided into 12 groups of 4 people and each group was tasked with solving a puzzle by brainstorming as many ideas as possible in the given time.

An additional group of 48 students were then asked to solve the same puzzle, but worked through it as individuals, and without the brainstorming instruction.

In the end, the second group of 48 individuals solved the puzzle quicker and a panel of judges determined that their solutions were more creative and effective than the group of teams. Just like the jelly-bean jar effect, this study illustrates the power of independent, objective thinkers.

The researchers concluded that the traditional method of brainstorming places limits on critical thinking. When people share thoughts, the collective tends to become fixated on one or two ideas voiced by the more dominant members of the session. The group setting may inhibit more reserved members from contributing, and, as people vocally share their ideas, it can be difficult to hear your own thoughts.

While rapid brainstorming sessions occasionally yield flashes of creativity and moments of inspiration, the very best ideas take time. If you are looking for truly brilliant ideas from your team, they are unlikely to be hatched under pressure or on a whim.

Instead, encourage your employees to be as committed to their ideas as you are to yours. Brainstorming sessions are most effective when employees know about them in advance, as this gives the team time to come up with ideas on their own, and to fully think them through with clarity. They can then present their ideas with confidence at the meeting. This way, the session cannot block or limit their thought process. A rebel entrepreneur will give their team an agenda to think about in advance of an upcoming group meeting to get the best brainstorming results.




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