Jonah Lehrer’s new book on creativity seems to be getting quoted in all sorts of places which is a sure sign that it’s got some interesting thinking in it. One such thought is around just how inadequate brainstorming is for the purpose for which it is commonly deployed – the generation of good ideas. One of Osborn’s original rules for brainstorming focused on quality through quantity, working on the assumption that the more ideas that are generated, the more likely a radical and effective solution would be found. Lehrer quotes Keith Sawyer, a psychologist at Washington University, who says that multiple studies conducted over a number of decades have consistently shown that brainstorming groups think of far fewer ideas than the same number of people who work alone and later pool their ideas.
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