Brainstorming is of course the classic of all creative techniques and probably the most popular. Invented by Alex Osborn and further developed by Charles Hutchison Clark, this method of brainstorming is designed to encourage the generation of new and unusual ideas among a group of people.
Alex Osborn based his work on the Indian technique Prai-Barshana, which has been around for about 400 years. He named it after the idea of this method, namely “using the brain to storm a problem”.
Brainstorming can be used in a wide variety of ways and in a great many situations, for example, to get started on a target, to generate ideas in advertising, for product development, as a way out of stalled creative meetings, to prepare for creative meetings, and as a foundation or precursor for other subsequent creativity techniques. Brainstorming always works optimally for challenges, problem types, and issues of simple complexity. Especially also the good combination possibility with other techniques should be mentioned here.
Advantages of the brainstorming method
Of course, the most popular creativity technique in the world has some advantages to offer. Here are some of them:
- Encouraging creativity: brainstorming allows participants to express ideas freely without being evaluated or criticized. This can foster creativity and lead to finding unusual or innovative solutions.
- Managing problem complexity: For complex problems, the different perspectives of team members can help illuminate different aspects of the problem, allowing for a more comprehensive and thorough solution finding process.
- Improve teamwork and communication: Brainstorming, in its classic version, is a group activity that helps team members collaborate better and communicate more effectively. It can improve understanding of others’ perspectives and ideas and strengthen team spirit.
- Discovery of new ideas: By bringing together different points of view and areas of knowledge, new and unexpected ideas can emerge. These can be of great value, especially in dynamic and rapidly changing environments. To this end, it is important that the team is made up of as many different people as possible.
- Faster solution finding: In situations where quick decisions are required, brainstorming can be an efficient way to quickly generate a variety of ideas and proposed solutions. No materials or specific working environments are required for use
- Involvement of all participants: Each participant has the opportunity to contribute his or her ideas, which can lead to greater acceptance of the final solution because everyone feels they have contributed to the outcome. However, this can often only be an advantage on paper, because in classic brainstorming, quiet, reserved participants tend to be disadvantaged.
Disadvantages of the brainstorming method
- Although brainstorming is the most popular creativity method for many people, it is certainly not suitable for all situations. Here are some disadvantages of the method:
- Dominance of individuals: In group brainstorming sessions, certain individuals may dominate the discussion while others are reserved. This can mean that not all ideas are heard equally. This becomes especially difficult when these individuals are also executives of the participants.
- Pressure to conform: Sometimes group dynamics can make individuals less inclined to express unique or controversial ideas for fear of rejection or criticism.
- Unstructured processes: Without proper structure or facilitation, a brainstorming session can become chaotic and bogged down in different directions, reducing its effectiveness. A moderator is therefore always recommended by us, ideally even two people do this (one moderates, the other writes the ideas on a flipchart).
- Disagreements and conflicts: Dis agreements and conflicts can arise during the development of ideas, which can lead to disagreements in the team and block the idea generation process. Therefore, in difficult and more conflictual work situations, the brainwriting method is more preferable.
Besides the classic brainstorming, there are numerous variants, some of which can also be found here in the Innovation Wiki: