Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Brainstorming - Yay or Nay?


In the article, In the defense of brainstorming: against Lehrer’s New Yorker article, Scott Berkun talks about the method of brainstorming and defends its uses in the business community. Opposing Groupthink: the brainstorming myth, the author looks at how brainstorming can be a useful tool and puts it in the context of the process rather than as a standalone tool.


The technique is useful for facilitating group thinking and coming up with new and perhaps unthought-of of ways of approaching different scenarios and situations. The author details how a facilitator is necessary to keep the group on task and to the point. There should also be a great deal of preparation done in order for it to be effective. This includes; a topic for ideas around a simple question, invitations to select individuals to join in on the process and a note in advance in order to give people time to think ahead.
            A criticism free environment should be implemented in order to get the best out of the participants. The facilitator should then introduce the problem that needs to be solved to those involved. Participants should explain their idea and why it is necessary and others should feel free to oppose or build on those ideas – always stating why in order for progression. Once the brainstorming session is over – the ideas should be revisited and discussed in more detail.

  • ·         It is designed for a volume of ideas
  • ·         Useful for a wide variety of situations
  • ·         Once done can be easily expanded
  • ·         It is easy and requires little preparation


  • ·         May be easy to get off topic
  • ·         Critics can make it hard to stimulate ideas
  • ·         It is only a small part of a larger process
  • ·         People should know each other beforehand. Strangers make it hard to stimulate discussion and ideas.


Brainstorming has many critics and it is hard to measure its utility. There are a number of arguments for and against it. However, it is simple to implement and if the preparation and right conditions are there then it is a great tool for generating a lot of ideas – no matter how good they are – for later discussion and use.


Berkun, Scott. In the defense of brainstorming: against Lehrer’s New Yorker article;  http://www.scottberkun.com/blog/2012/in-defense-of-brainstorming-2/

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