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There’s a Better Way to Brainstorm

The team brainstorming session is a common way for drumming up new ideas but research suggests that they have one big problem: Group interactions, like brainstorming, can actually inhibit idea generation.


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"In face-to-face settings, the opportunity to fully share information and knowledge is limited by the fact that only one person can express his or her ideas at one time,” Paulus and colleagues write in a recent study. “While waiting one’s turn to share ideas, a person may forget what he or she meant to say or get distracted from one’s own ideas by the sharing process. There may be rather uneven participation as some individuals may dominate the discussion."

But this doesn’t mean that bringing team members together to come up with new ideas is necessarily useless. Paulus and colleagues have found that a few tweaks may boost the effectiveness of brainstorming. One technique that the Paulus and colleagues are investigating is “brainwriting,” where team members share ideas through writing them down instead of shouting them out loud.


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