Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Writing about a problem near and dear to my heart, Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman recommend that we "forget brainstorming" in the sense of rounding up a group of collaborators and telling them to think outside the box.
Brainstorming in a group became popular in 1953 with the publication of a business book, Applied Imagination. But it's been proven not to work since 1958, when Yale researchers found that the technique actually reduced a team's creative output: the same number of people generate more and better ideas separately than together. In fact, according to University of Oklahoma professor Michael Mumford, half of the commonly used techniques intended to spur creativity don't work, or even have a negative impact. As for most commercially available creativity training, Mumford doesn't mince words: it's "garbage."Bronson and Merryman suggest instead the following techniques, on which they elaborate a little further:
- Don't tell someone to "be creative."
- Get moving.
- Take a break.
- Reduce screen time.
- Learn other cultures.
- Follow a passion.
- Ditch the suggestion box.
Long-time followers of this blog might feel deja vu upon encountering the name Po Bronson. That's because I have taken notice of other thought-provoking essays by the author a couple of times already, in posts titled "Flattery vs. Self-Esteem" and "The Impostor Syndrome." He has a website, too, which I plan to take a look at some time in the near future.