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Unformatted text preview: wance – failed to yield a
reduction in the productivity gap between real and
Research shows that a good, highly-trained group
facilitator can help reduce the blocking problem. One
recent study showed that a brainstorming group that
had a highly trained facilitator outperformed not only
groups with a less-trained (or untrained) facilitator
but also nominal groups of individuals working alone
(Oxley, Dzindolete and Paulus 1996).
Why Do Firms Carry on Brainstorming?
Most textbooks seem reluctant to discuss the damning
research which explains how and why brainstorming
does not deliver. There are several possible reasons
why brainstorming has not fallen out of favour in the
business community. Because brainstorming groups
overestimate their own productivity? Or because of
the use of group facilitators which has genuinely been
found to help interactive group performance? In this
section we look at how brainstorming can work – if
at all – and in what circumstances. Let us start with
Durham and Pierce (1989):
“How well does brainstorming work in practice?
Compared to more traditional group processes,
brainstorming works quite well. The number of quality
ideas is better, and costs per idea generated tend to be
more favorable. Through the brainstorming process group members tend to focus on the task at hand,
and, as a result, interpersonal conflict and pressures
toward conformity decline. In addition, ideas
generated by group members are likely to be accepted
by the group.
“Unfortunately the aspects of brainstorming that help
make it successful also create some problems. Because
ideas are not evaluated, at the end of a brainstorming
session the only product is a list of ideas. There is no
plan, there is no solution, and the initial problem still
exists. This lack of closure can create dissatisfaction
among participants, especially when someone else (a
manager of another group) evaluates the ideas that
the brainstorming group has generated.
“Many organizations use brainstorming because it
appears to have many advantages in comparison to
traditional group decision making and only a few
drawbacks. There is some evidence, however, that
individuals “brainstorming” alone would generate
more and better quality ideas than they would in a
brainstorming group. Even in a relaxed atmosphere,
the presence of others may still inhibit the quantity
and creativity of ideas generated by brainstorming
“Individual brainstorming is helpful in some
situations, group brainstorming in others. A group
session encourages each member to devote the
necessary time to idea generation, and, because group
sessions are often more enjoyable than solitary work,
they can create an esprit de corps and satisfy people’s
social needs. Group sessions remind each member that
others have many good ideas, and they can improve
group commitment to ideas and increase
communication within the group. When these factors
are important, managers may use brains...
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This document was uploaded on 09/30/2013.
- Spring '13
- The Land