BRAINSTORMING Brainstorming is a technique to help groups generate proposals for alternative courses of action. It was not intended as a method for carrying out the entire decision-making process. Osborn (1957) proposed the idea of brainstorming. He believed it was a way to help people make more creative proposals than they otherwise could have. As you recall, we distinguished In Chapter 2 between theorists who are whilst and those who are reductionisms. Whilst believe that people perform tasks better when they are members of a group than when they are alone.
In entrants, reductionisms believe that people perform tasks better when they work alone than when they are in groups. Osborn was a firm believer in holism. He believed that people working In groups have the potential to generate more Ideas and more creative ideas than when they work alone. Osborn also believed, however, that people often do not realize this potential because individuals working in groups are often afraid that other group members will evaluate their Ideas negatively. People are particularly afraid that the group will dislike their “craziest” notions.
Therefore, roof members often are afraid to express their Ideas in public. This is a significant drawback because “crazy’ ideas are sometimes the most creative and best solutions to problems. Hence, Osborn wanted to provide a technique for generating ideas in groups that would make people comfortable enough to express even their most “off- the-wall” ideas. To do this, he created the brainstorming method. Brainstorming is easy. The first step Is to choose a person to write down all the proposals that the group generates. Next, the members call out their ideas. They do so under unique conditions: . Ender no circumstances can members evaluate any proposal. Encouragement Is fine, but the group does no evaluating until a later stage. Osborn believed that people are apprehensive about suggesting their ideas because they are afraid that others will evaluate these ideas negatively. Therefore, if the group follows the rule that members cannot evaluate proposals, people should feel free to express any ideas that they have. Brainstorming will not work unless the group strictly follows this first rule. If any member begins to evaluate a proposal, the group must enforce the ale by gently reminding the group as a whole not to evaluate ideas. . The members should attempt to generate as many proposals as they can. A large quantity of options should ensure that at least a few of them will be good 3. Participants should “freewheel,” that is, attempt to come up with the wildest proposals they can Imagine. Most of these Ideas will no doubt be bad, but one of them may instead turn out to be a stroke of genius. 4. Members should “piggyback,” that Is, generate Ideas that build on suggestions of other group members. Torso The Diner’s Club brainstorms about dinner suggestions, following the conditions set Roth above.
They arrange their ideas in columns and find that they have the following list: Hamburger Salad Lasagna French fries Soup Lo mien Steak Spaghetti Chow mien Pork chops Spaghetti and meat balls Tacos Lamb chops Spaghetti and meat sauce Tortillas As you can see, the Diner’s Club has a wide range of ideas for dinner. Did brainstorming help the group? If so, how much? The effectiveness of the brainstorming technique is variously regarded. Effectiveness of Brainstorming Brainstorming is most appropriate when the group’s task is specific and fairly limited n range.
Under these conditions, the technique will lead to proposals that are most likely to be feasible and least likely to be so numerous that they overwhelm the group. A disadvantage of brainstorming is that the sheer number of options can force a group to spend a great deal of time evaluating possible courses of action. Further, members express many potentially good ideas in a vague form as they brainstorm. Consequently, the group needs a great deal of time to formulate more precise versions of these options to evaluate them properly. Brainstorming Experiments
Scientists have conducted many experiments in an attempt to discover whether or not brainstorming actually does what Osborn intended. In Chapter 2 we described the work of problem-solving groups. As you recall, the best way to study problem- solving groups is to compare them with “nominal groups” of the same number of people working alone writing down their ideas. We will call this second method the silent generation of proposals. In this way, researchers can compare the quality and quantity of ideas coming from groups and from same-size aggregates. This is also the Lam and Transforms Review
Lam and Transforms (1972) reviewed a number of brainstorming studies. Their findings are not encouraging. In one part of their review, Lam and Transforms looked at 12 experiments. In 9 of the 12, nominal groups performing silent generation produced more nondestructive ideas than actual brainstorming groups. The remaining 3 found no difference between aggregates and brainstorming groups. Lam and Transforms also reviewed 8 studies that looked at the quality of ideas generated. Six of these found that nominal groups generated ideas that were, overall, superior to those of brainstorming groups.
Philippines, Mullah, and Dietrich Study Why do brainstorming groups produce less and poorer ideas than nominal groups? Is it because brainstorming somehow decreases people’s individual abilities to come up with ideas? A study by Philippines, Mullah, and Dietrich (1979) provides evidence against this possibility. Participants performed two brainstorming tasks, which were each separated into two stages. In the preliminary stage of the first task, group members worked together for 12 minutes and made verbal proposals for solving a problem.
During the second stage of this task, the members separated. They then silently generated ideas in response to the same problem for 12 minutes. For the second task, participants worked alone the entire time. During the first stage of this task, participants took 12 minutes to make individual verbal proposals for solving a problem. In the second stage, Just as in the first task, they silently generated ideas for the same problem for 12 minutes. The researchers looked at the first stage of each task and compared the participants’ performance.
They found, as expected, that nominal groups verbalized more nondestructive proposals than brainstorming roofs during this stage. The aggregates averaged 41 ideas; the brainstorming groups averaged only 23. The experimenters then compared the second stage of each task. Members of nominal and brainstorming groups wrote down the same number of proposals, an average of 35. The researchers also Judged that the quality of the ideas was similar. These findings suggest that members of brainstorming groups may have the potential to generate as many, and as good, ideas as people in nominal groups.
Thus, brainstorming does not harm people’s individual decision- making capacities. Therefore, there is something else going on during brainstorming sessions that harms idea generation. Several possible reasons for these findings have been suggested: 1 . Members may continue to fear criticism and, therefore, withhold proposals, even though the conditions of brainstorming forbid criticism. 2. Brainstorming groups may spend too much time in task-irrelevant talk. 3. People in the groups may become overdressed, causing them not to be at their psychological best for creative work. . Dominant and talkative participants might monopolize the brainstorming concussion, preventing other members from making their suggestions. 5. As they do with additive tasks, members of brainstorming groups may engage in “social Although all five of these proposals are probably correct from time to time, research by Diddle and Strobe (1987) suggests that the most important reason may be a sixth. In a group brainstorming session, there is often a delay between the time when a group member thinks of an idea and the time the member can contribute the idea to the group.
This is because other members are usually speaking. During that time, embers are prone to either forget their idea or, contrary to the rules of brainstorming, suppress it. Further, when group members listen to one another’s proposals, they are often distracted from thinking of ideas themselves. In short, brainstorming leads to production blocking, or the inability to concentrate on idea generation and fertilization. This problem does not occur in silent idea generation, in which people can concentrate on ideas and write them down as soon as they think of them.
It follows from the concept of production blocking that increasing the size of brainstorming group will not increase the number of ideas generated, despite the extra people. More members means more difficulty getting the floor and more other people to listen it, thus increase production blocking. This implication was supported in research by Boucher and Hare (1970). The number of ideas generated by brainstorming groups with 5, 7, and 9 members was compared with the number of ideas generated by nominal groups of 5, 7, and 9 individuals brainstorming alone.
The individuals in the 5-person nominal groups generated more than 100 ideas on average, and this number increased to about 140 for the 7-person nominal groups and 175 for the 9-person. The real brainstorming groups, no matter their size, only generated about 60. General Conclusions Thus the advantages of silent idea generation over brainstorming are real. Nominal groups doing silent idea generation tend to produce ideas higher in quality and quantity than brainstorming groups. This does not necessarily imply that people should always generate proposals when they are alone instead of when they are in groups.
For example, brainstorming is fun. The maintenance advantages it provides roofs may outweigh the loss of quality and quantity of ideas. Another consideration is that the experience of brainstorming may improve the ability of group members to work together during the subsequent stages of decision making (Philippines et al. , 1979). Thus, the group experience of generating ideas together still may be worthwhile, despite the experimental findings. Further, it is important to note that brainstorming groups produce more ideas than groups with that have no procedure for generating proposals.