Does Brainstorming Really Kill Big Ideas?

I was particularly disturbed and confused by the front cover of the July 19th edition of Canadian Business that boldly proclaims, “How brainstorming kills good ideas”.

Disturbed and confused at least until I got to what I will call the moment of truth (on page 91), “…people in groups examined a more limited range of suggestions. The reason, according to Kohn, is fixation.  That is, as soon as one member of the group offers an idea, the others get stuck on it and conform their own thinking to the suggestion.  Creativity, in effect, is stifled. In many cases, we may not even be aware that fixation is occurring”.

So here’s the thing … brainstorming, ideation, creative thinking (call it what you will) is something that needs to be lead by an outsider who is an expert at leading discussion through a thoughtful, proven process.  Throwing the same group of people into the same room to discuss the same issues lead by the same boss with the same bias (that you probably hear expounded daily), not a good idea.

For years now, Spyder, in concert with uber researcher and facilitator Marion Plunkett (, has been running innovation and ideation roundtables and workshops that result in dozens of good, implementable ideas from the small, thought-provoking variety to the breakthrough, wow! type.

My headline and hypothesis? Brainstorming: Don’t Go It Alone.

-Ken Tencer

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