Ideation is for INDIVIDUALS, not groups!

Group brainstorming is not a good way to generate innovation ideas.

In the Preface to Sprint, a book my entrepreneur daughter insisted I read, the author discusses his missteps using group brainstorming at Google.

He notes the group brainstorming sessions were “a lot of fun,” participants enjoyed the process, but… they did not generate successful ideas. The best ideas were generated by individuals “sitting at their desks, or waiting at a coffee shop, or taking a shower.”brainstorming3

Jake Knapp’s Preface is a good summary of what I found in a study of 50 years of research on group brainstorming.

Flawed Tools: The Efficacy of Group Research Methods to Generate Customer Ideas” which appeared in the Journal of Product Innovation Management reviewed five decades of experience and research on group brainstorming and some recent data. The study showed that compared to ideas generated by individuals, group methods produced:

  1. Fewer ideas,
  2. Fewer good ideas, and
  3. Fewer really creative ideas.

But… participants did enjoy the process and felt productive….

[Which raises an issue of whether groups might have a role to encourage organizational buy-in for innovation…]

But once again:


If you want to review the evidence check out the JPIM article here.

This entry was posted in Customer Research Methods, Ideation, NSD Process, Service Design and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Ideation is for INDIVIDUALS, not groups!

  1. horiasas says:


    Thanks a lot for sharing us your findings about brainstorming and about the captivating book, Sprint!

    I hope to be in touch!

    Have a great day, Horia

    Sent from my iPhone


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