If Brainstorming is Dumb, What’s the Smart Alternative?

Posted by Jon Hall on Oct 13, 2016


Recently, Fast Company published “Brainstorming is Dumb,” asserting that brainwriting – an alternate method to brainstorming that encourages broader collaboration within a group – is a more productive approach to ideation. In fact, the article introduces how psychologists undertook studies of the approaches and their empirical results came down in favor of brainwriting.

In a nutshell, brainwriting levels the playing field by giving voice to each idea, so ideas are judged on their merit, not just by who in the group created them. In brainwriting, participants write down ideas on individual cards and pass them around in an effort to stimulate new ideas or provide modification suggestions. Sessions generally end with a group review and vote on the most viable ideas. This is an important point because peer pressure is a powerful influence and we’ve all seen ideas “win” if they are perceived to come from an authority figure in a group setting. In traditional brainstorming, we also often see small groups of people creating a “shared” idea instead of everyone fully contributing to each create new ideas. With brainwriting, these issues are solved with a focus on individual contributions built upon by the collaborative nature of the process.  

SpencerHall’s Transforum® innovation tool is based on the power of brainwriting combined with a proprietary technological component that serves several important functions in generating more – and better – ideas:

  • Virtual Engagement. Physical gatherings do not equate to higher participation. In fact, the research now proves otherwise – demonstrating that alternating individual and group brainwriting enhances the number of ideas generated since the process is by and large asynchronous, meaning not everyone thinks or creates at exactly the same rate, or within the same strictly defined timeframe. The Transforum virtual space gives participants the freedom to set their own rhythm of creativity over a multi-day session: “logging on” to capitalize on the immediacy of group collaborative energy and to share or build on ideas; or, “logging off” to allow time for independent thought and reflection.
  • Judgment-free Anonymity. Transforum is purposefully designed for user anonymity, freeing them to focus on and react to the power of the idea, and offer perspectives and ideas (perhaps normally outside of their comfort zone) without fear of judgment or repercussion. Likewise, since ideas aren’t attributed to any particular individual, the group has shared ownership in decisions and outcomes. The thought process, ideation or ultimately the group’s choices aren’t skewed by group members who feel obligated to “get on board” with ideas specifically touted by a boss or supervisor.
  • Idea Continuity. With our Creativeware™ cloud portal access to ongoing ideation, team members can build out ideas and also review idea threads in total to spark new thoughts. 
  • Objective Idea Prioritization. At the end of the innovation phase Transforum participants rate ideas in private. The results are aggregated to numerically prioritize ideas and share results with the group for decisions on which ideas to move forward.
  • Thought Leadership. Only Transforum offers the Brain Trust, SpencerHall’s special team of creative thought leaders and subject matter experts, to collaborate with teams and push them into new idea-generating territories. A side benefit of the Brain Trust is scheduling and cost-effectiveness: casting a wide, virtual net boosts expert participation without deference to meeting schedules or cost-prohibitive fees for multi-day in-person sessions.

Only Transforum gives you all the elements that innovation experts have proven are needed to springboard beyond conventional thinking to truly breakthrough ideas.

To find out more about how the groundbreaking Transforum innovation process can help your company create the right environment for new and creative ideas, download our free case studies by clicking the button below, or contact us today at 888.883.IDEA.

Transforum Case Studies