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Bob, thanks for an excellent post! I've found myself making the very same points to a variety of people over the past week. As you say, what the studies cited prove that brainstorming doesn't work - when it's done badly. You mention that those studied had no training. In fact, in our work at SmartStorming, with well over 1,000 people from a range of backgrounds, we have learned that more than 90% of the people leading group ideation sessions have had NO training whatsoever in how to do it effectively. They are generally unaware of any of the necessary planning requirements, process, leadership skills - and utilize no ideation techniques of any kind. (By the way, I should point out that I am using the term "brainstorming" here as it is commonly used today - to describe any group idea generation session, not just one that uses Osborn's specific technique and guidance.) Of course, there have been other studies that show, when best practices are applied, brainstorms are quite effective. (And certainly our own experience, yours and IDEO's, and that of our clients, supports this.) The most recent I'm aware of was done at North Carolina State University in 2010. See... http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/248-business-brainstorming-is-as-much-an-art-as-a-science.html So in the spirit of not throwing out the baby with the bath water, I encourage those truly interested in being more effective at generating and developing more and better ideas - learn how to do it the right way! (I just want to add that we have great respect for the work done by Tom Kelley and IDEO!) Keith Harmeyer Partner SmartStorming http://SmartStorming.com
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Jan 27, 2012