Thank goodness someone finally said it. To me “brainstorming” and “groupthink” are analogous to eating a raw oyster: I’m supposed to like it, I want to like it, but it just doesn’t work for me.
It may work for you but, personally, I do my best thinking in solitude—alone in my office, out for a walk, in the shower, and such—I’ve never been good at coming up with campaign ideas with a copywriter or brainstorming them amongst a group at an agency or studio. To me, thinking through things at the level necessary to develop something original, initially requires back and forth within my own head. And adding other voices and ideas on the fly interrupts my train of thought.
Please be clear, I’m not saying my ideas are the best or that ultimately sharing and digging deeper into ideas is not necessary or useful, I’m saying, in that early development stage, I am unable (or at least not good at) doing my best thinking within a group.
So a modicum of vindication came, at long last, from Susan Cain’s 2012 piece for the New York Times titled, The Rise of the New Groupthink. In part she posed, “Conversely, brainstorming sessions are one of the worst possible ways to stimulate creativity… But decades of research show that individuals almost always perform better than groups in both quality and quantity, and group performance gets worse as group size increases.”
In that same year she expanded that idea through a well received TED Talk about how our education and business systems seem to think that the solution to dealing with introverts is to make them into extroverts rather than figure out how to obtain the best from both.
That struck a cord with me because I’ve long felt that many folks are in the spotlight, not because they have the best ideas, but because they are simply more gregarious and better presenters.
Cain’s TED Talk:
It’s a fundamentally important discussion, about both brainstorming and valuing the introvert.
She also wrote Quiet The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. A summary: