Collaborative Innovation replaces Brainstorming

Collaborative Innovation replaces BrainstormingThe term brainstorming was coined over 70 years ago. Its use has been disproved for 50 years now. It is time to apply techniques which really enhance creativity like collaborative innovation.

Alex Osborn described the technique of brainstorming at BBDO in his book “How to Think Up”, released 1942 (the “O” stands for Osborn). However, there had been plenty of evidence in the past 50 years proving the technique has a negative impact. Donald Taylor, Paul Berry and Clifford Block wrote about its benefits in 1958 and raised the  following question: Does Group Participation when using Brainstorming facilitate or inhibit Creative Thinking? Their results consolidated and published by Jochen Paulus in the journal “Bild der Wissenschaft” are as below:

The candidates can’t do any better in groups since they hinder each other. Usually they have to wait until anyone else has finished speaking – and this inhibits creativity.

The explanation for this characteristic is given by Wolfgang Stroebe, professor of psychology at the University of Utrecht. (…) He attributes the inhibition to malfunctions of participants’ memory: To get input for new ideas the brain has to reallocate information out of the long-term memory, and it has to keep them present. Both processes suffer from waiting when the conventional brainstorming technique is conducted.

Admittedly, it is significant important for successful ideas to draw on others’ thoughts. The internet lists new methods and tools to generate ideas, named ideation as part of “Collaborative Innovation”

With appropriate software support provided by the worldwide leading suppliers of innovation software we can facilitate two very important features of target-oriented creativity in companies:

  1. Participants are able to pass their ideas at any time – provided that they have a mobile phone. Ideas typically spring up in moments we do ordinary activities, for instance when having a shower.
  2. Moreover, participants are able to see what ideas others have. This is essential. Only a few can evolve seminal ideas out of their own mind – ideas are based on each other.

Summarized: do not book any brainstorming workshops to create ideas unless the initiators are professionals in brainstorming. There are enough other opportunities out there. Collaborative innovation based on innovation management software is one of them.

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Juergen H StaeudtnerJuergen H. Staeudtner is owner of Cridon, a consultancy and agency for innovation. He has held various positions in management consulting and in line organizations since 1993. He holds a masters degree in mechanical engineering, business administration and fine arts.

Juergen H Staeudtner




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No Comments

  1. Steve Furniss on November 23, 2012 at 7:47 am

    Oh dear. I have been using brainstorming to successfully engage, problem-solve and make innovative leaps for over 20 years. Hadn’t realised it doesn’t work. Thanks for informing me.

    • Jürgen Stäudtber on November 27, 2012 at 3:50 am

      Hi Steve,

      I did not find your comment online so I answer like this.

      That is what I thought too.
      Did you think of having had better results using other methods / technologies?
      It is very likely that you can improve your already very good results.



      Hi Jürgen,

      Thanks for your email. I have used other techniques for problem-solving and deeper analysis but for sheer number of ideas and for ‘off-tangent’ thinking an energized brainstorming session has yet to be beaten, in my experience.

      I am reminded of Einstein’s quote: “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” With effective brainstorming a certain kind madness, what you could call a ‘flight of ideas’ occurs. This can lead to bizarre ideas that, once thought through rationally, can be changed and adapted for the real world. Not sure of many other techniques that can do this.

      I would be interested to hear what you prefer to use.

      Kind Regards,

      Steve Furniss


      Hi Steve,

      I fully agree on what you wrote.
      However, the problem with brainstorming is that you miss a lot of good ideas. As to my experience for two reasons:
      People tend to forget their ideas if they are not able to immediately address them – especially difficult for introverted people.
      You get ideas typically in other situations – you need to be busy, but with activities that do not require a lot of brain activity. subconsciously brains are combing knowledge to form ideas

      Currently we are investigating Ideation Software to help with this. We screened the leading international suppliers. Currently we try to understand what typical problems / scenarios companies have to verify how we could help with using a software.

      It does not 100% help on the second point except you can ensure that people are using the software frequently. But it can help on the first one. That is what I understand from research.

      Thanks again!

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