the-brainstorming-myth1(2)

May be used to help solve a wide range of management

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Unformatted text preview: ge of management problems or for longer term purposes such as technological forecasting. Other techniques used for the latter purpose include the Delphi approach…” (Johannsen and Page 1995). “brainstorming. A technique aimed at stimulating the generation of as many solutions to a problem as possible; consists of a meeting, usually lasting no more than an hour, chaired by a strong moderator, who stimulates idea quantity and encourages building upon and modification of ideas expressed. …The technique has been very successfully used in such areas as advertising and product development” ( VNR Dictionary of Business and Finance 1980). However, even in business dictionaries, opinion is equivocal. The VNR Dictionary comments: “Properly used, brainstorming encourages expression of all ideas, no matter how seemingly offbeat, and completely bars criticism of any ideas expressed; but it is sometimes misused, as when the moderator is ineffectual, the technique is misunderstood, criticism is allowed to develop, or the meeting wanders away from the specific problem addressed.” Some have attempted to specify mathematical models of groups brainstorming. Brown and Paulus (1996) attempted a “simple dynamic model” based on three assumptions: 1. “Output decay: Any given individual will eventually run out of ideas. This factor serves to decrease productivity over time. 2. Blocking: An individual’s productivity will decrease as a function of total group output. 3. Matching: Individuals adjust their productivity rate to more closely match the average group rate. This factor decreases an individual’s productivity if it is higher than the group average and increases an individual’s productivity if it is lower than the group average.” (p95) Winter 2000 24Adrian Furnham Brainstorming experiments usually involve unstructured, open-ended, “creative” tasks. The tasks traditionally used ranged from the “thumbs problem” (whereby the benefits and difficulties of growing an extra thumb on each hand were assessed) to the “blind world problem” (which involved thinking up the consequences if suddenly everyone went blind). The methodological diversity of these experiments makes it hard to compare one study with another. All sorts of other possible explanations have been investigated. For example, does the personality of people in brainstorming groups have an effect (Furnham and Yazdanpanahi, 1995)? Camacho and Paulus (1995) found, perhaps predictably, that anxious people did less well in brainstorming groups. Harvey and Paulus (1995) found that brainstorming groups actually set fewer goals than people working alone. The topic continues to attract research partly because of the mystery noted in the beginning: despite the evidence, traditional brainstorming is still held up to be a better method than brainstorming by nominal groups. Managers who argue that all this research is unrealistic (with poor real world validity) might look at a study of employ...
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