One head is better than two or more

Marc Andreessen quotes from the book The Medici Effect in his post Why brainstorming is a bad idea. And apparently, this has been demonstrated to be so waaaaaaay back in 1958!

To their surprise, the researchers found that virtual groups, where people brainstormed individually, generated nearly twice as many ideas as the real groups.

And as to quality? …

In addition, in the studies where the quality of ideas was measured, researchers found that the total number of good ideas was much higher in virtual groups than in real groups.

And yet, in my experience with the companies I’ve worked for the idea of getting people together to generate ideas for problem-solving or whatever is the norm. I just recently finished serving on a lil’ ol’ task force of about six people where we had to come up with … ahem … a better way to work in a particular circumstance.

And boy! was it painful.

Personalities aside, the biggest problem for me (and probably the biggest reason why I loathed attending these meetings) was that the ideas that came out of our discussions were really really un-creative.

LifeDev offers a thought about this …

We already knew that meetings make us dumber. The more people that are present when forming ideas, the less you have time to let them marinate, and it’s this marination time that lets the ideas really evolve.


About Rory

I make my home in the central part of the Garden State along with my family. When I'm not working as an Instructional Designer (focusing mostly on Web-Based learning ... and other eLearning technologies) or researching something, I'm found at home playing computer or video games. Among other things, I volunteer as a choir member and catechist for 8th graders at my parish.
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3 Responses to One head is better than two or more

  1. Pingback: FredSpace

  2. nkilkenny says:

    Some of the presentors at a lecture I attended at the Distance Learning Conf. in Madison noted that they allowed their students to brainstorm on their own at first then share their findings in a group brainstorm. They did this because they didn’t want the more “dominant” personalities to rule the discussion and give the bulk of the contributions. I think it’s up to instructors and team leaders to set the tone and rules for collaboration. Meetings can make us dumber when certain people have an agenda and they force it πŸ™‚ But it’s always good for the group to have goals that they need to meet in brainstorming.

  3. Rory says:

    Well said, Natalie … good points too about the use of group brainstorming to curb the overbearing personalities from dominating.
    (And welcome back from the conference. I enjoyed reading your summaries of the sessions that you posted)

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