I suspect that many of you already know this researched fact. Brainstorming in a group doesn’t work. In 1958, a group of Yale researchers found group brainstorming can actually reduce a team’s creative output. Another Indiana University study about to come out shows that creativity is on the decline for the first time in our country’s history, despite rises in IQ.
So, if brainstorming work, why does every company in America still seem to use it as a “strategic” technique? I think it’s become popular because it doesn’t require any pre-work or thought. Don’t have the answers to our biggest problems? No worries, let’s all get in a room and figure it out by brainstorming. Maybe someone brilliant will have the answer. I actually found in my experience that many businesses use the classic brainstorm meeting as a cleverly disguised “alignment” or “approval for my idea” meeting.
Here’s what does work for bringing out creativity inside yourself, borrow straight from this Newsweek article:
1) Exercise – 30 minutes of exercise can help spur 2 hours of creativity afterward. Bummer alert: it doesn’t work if you are not already physically fit.
2) Breaks – stop multi-tasking because this only delays things. But, breaks between 2 concurrent creative projects helps.
3) Reduce TV – this has shown to reduce creative time in kids. The more the TV, the less creative play. Makes sense, TV allows us to turn off the brain.
4) Travel or Immerse in Other Cultures – those who live abroad outperform others in creativity tasks.
5) Follow Passion – kids who develop a deep passion vs. well-roundedness tend to be more centered and handle discipline better.
6) Action Over the Suggestion Box – the suggestion box doesn’t work, I suspect because the response is too slow and not personal. Toyota has found that empowering employees to implement their own ideas does work.
The way companies think of creativity is antiquated and probably pretty damaging. Everyone is creative in their own way, but we grow up think that the kid in the corner who draws pictures of monsters and dragons is the most creative. Not so! I think creativity is more about expressing your personal uniqueness and originality. Therefore, everyone can and should be creative – so go for a run, stop watching TV and multi-tasking, follow your passion, and the rest will take care of itself.