Brainstorming, a great way to…

Fail.

Not because it doesn’t have any validity, it does of course have its uses, but because it is done so badly. Wrong place, wrong people, wrong problems which all contribute to the wrong solutions.

My experiences of the technique, for which we have to thank Alex Faickney Osborne and his book Applied Imagination, is that the people who enthuse and call the BS (funny that the acronym has other meaning) session fall into two camps.

First there’s the enthusiast who has already decided what outcome they want and uses the session to make everyone think they have come up with it.

Second is the person who hates making decisions and uses the time to avoid taking the blame for something when it goes wrong because, “we all had input and agreed”.

So when I came across “The Oatmeal” and the piece, “There are only bad ideas in Brainstorming” (from which the images are taken) it was a relief, a vindication of my unease – not because the technique has little in its favour, far from it – but because of the way that it is employed. The “throw it against the wall and see what sticks” approach does nothing for me.

But I have to admit I do enjoy it.

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