Edited excerpt from Resolving the Paradox of Group Creativity by Andre Walton:
When advertising executive Alex Osborn popularized brainstorming in the 1953 book Applied Imagination, he predicted that it would double the number of ideas that a group of people would generate in response to a problem or challenge. However, it proved not to live up to his expectations. As later research showed, brainstorming actually reduces the number of ideas a group produces when compared with the number of ideas that can be generated by those same individuals on their own.
So if you can’t rely on brainstorming and teamwork to elicit more creative ideas, what can you do? One remedy is to make sure that individuals have plenty of space for individual contemplation and input. In our everyday work environments, this ability to find personal time and space to think is crucial to enabling creative thought.
(1) Thank you Hana Abduljaami for the tip.
(2) Cf. The problem with collaboration, and why goals should have single “owners”.
(3) On how to create time to think, see: (i) How to clear time for deep thinking, (ii) Creating time for reflection, and (iii) If you want to get more done, stop doing these things.
(4) On office design to enable creative thought: Startup office design: Time to reconsider cubicles?