What are problems with brainstorming?

One useful technique used in the world of business is brainstorming, which are methods that Alex Osborn (1953) began developing for creative problem-solving. There are four general rules of brainstorming:

  • enhancing divergent ideas
  • withholding criticisms
  • welcoming wild ideas
  • combing and improving ideas


Brainstorming combines a distress, informal method to problem-solving with critical thinking. It inspires people to come up with thoughts and ideas, some of which can be creative solutions to a problem. This helps to get people unstuck by leading them out of their ordinary ways of thinking.


Is brainstorming the best approach to come up with ideas?

According to one article, previous research on productivity loss in brainstorming groups observed that brainstorming groups are generally much less productive than titular groups, in terms of both quantity and quality. In addition to having larger brainstorming groups, results show that their creativities decrease. In other words, the productivity of a brainstorming group compared to individual brainstorming is much higher even if it is just one person. (Productivity Loss in Brainstorming Groups)

There are mainly three reasons these problems arise.

  1. People hesitate to express their opinions in front of people, even if they know that criticism is withheld.
  2. People who work in a team don’t try to come up with ideas because they rely on others.
  3. Many people can’t come up with great ideas under pressure.


Also, research shows us that chronic, long-term stress and overwhelms take an enormous toll on our mentality and physically. They force our brain chemistry to keep us in a constant fight or flight mode, causing our amygdala to flood our bodies with stress hormones, which makes the prefrontal cortex begin to shut down; we become more reactive and less useful for thinking clearly and reflectively. (Making Group Brainstorming More Effective: Recommendations From an Associative, 2016)