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Does Brainstorming Enhance Creative Thinking and Innovation?


Writers J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and others discussed religious and literary ideas and their own works in progress in a famed discussion group, the Inklings, which met regularly at Lewis’ college rooms at Oxford or in pubs, in the 1930s and 40s.

Of course, writers groups, support groups based on Julia Cameron’s classic book The Artist’s Way, and similar gatherings still enable creative collaboration and feedback from others.

Psychologist Paul Paulus has researched the value of group ‘brainwriting’ in which “group members write their ideas on paper and pass them to others in the group who then add their own ideas to the list,” as writer Amy Novotney summarizes.

She adds that in a study led by Paulus, “an interactive group of brainwriters produced 28 percent more possible uses for a paper clip than a similar group of solitary brainwriters. This may be because group members tend to build off one another’s ideas, leading to increased creativity and innovation. The effects of group brainwriting may even extend to groups that collaborate via e-mail, Paulus notes.”

2 thoughts on “Does Brainstorming Enhance Creative Thinking and Innovation?

  • May 28, 2013 at 11:51 am

    I believe that brainstorming is such an important part of creativity and using it can help in many different areas.
    These exercises are often seen as boring or a waste of time within a business environment but with business creativity becoming more important than ever in current times; it can be a great way for colleagues to use each other to develop innovative ideas.

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  • May 29, 2013 at 11:59 am

    I am one of those who rarely ever came up witha “good” idea in the context of some employer designated ‘brainstorming’ session. It may be that the type of employment matters a great deal ( like, are you a writer for a comedy series – undoubtedly different than trying to figure how to produce x more widgets or complete Z more reports).
    But anyway, I am an introvert, not shy, but find that such sessions are dominated by folks without ideas who are good both at delegating and maintaining hierarchical relationships which really squash new ideas. They are focused on objectives, which is a necessary phase, being so end-focused is the antithesis of the creative process, which is more about redefining problems.

    Also, in groups in business situations, those with more connections and power dominate groups, so that basically – some members potential contributions are essentially ruled out because of their lower status, not because they aren’t innovative.

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