Here’s a great interview with Columbia University professor of management William Dugan about why brainstorming doesn’t always serve our needs as well as it could. I echo some of his thoughts from my personal experience below.
Surely you’ve had these thoughts in meetings. I’ve been guilty of it, both in the Vader role (above) and in the audience when I wished I had a light saber to end the pointless meeting abruptly.
Here are the two main problems with brainstorming:
- As a followup to analysis: So, you’ve spent x days, weeks or months doing a lot of work to figure out how your company, unit, brand, department, competitors, etc are doing at a particular endeavor. Your analysis is top notch. But, the implementation (what’s next) step lands on the shoulders of the boss or another operating unit and is sorely lacking. This happens all the time. ALL THE TIME. ALL THE TIME. Especially in government. AS MUCH OR MORE THOUGHT SHOULD BE PUT INTO IMPLEMENTATION!
- As a time for generating creative thoughts: Prof. Dugan put this very well in the podcast: you have your creative thoughts in the shower, in bed, drinking beer, jogging, etc. The 3:30 pm ‘brainstorm’ should be a 3:30 pm idea sharing session, not limited to one topic, but instead open to all to share ideas, thoughts, progress that has naturally occurred over the past few days.