The term Brainstorming has become a commonly used word in the English language as a generic term for creative thinking. The basis of brainstorming is a generating ideas in a group situation based on the principle of suspending judgment - a principle which scientific research has proved to be highly productive in individual effort as well as group effort. The generation phase is separate from the judgment phase of thinking.
The term was invented by Alex Osborn and described in his book "Applied Imagination". Other authors have explained brainstorming, and I quote from Michael Morgan's book Creative Workforce Innovation to give the following guidelines:
Brainstorming is a process that works best with a group of people when you follow the following four rules.
In Serious Creativity, Edward de Bono describes brainstorming as a traditional approach to do deliberate creative thinking with the consequence that people think creative thinking can only be done in groups. The whole idea of brainstorming is that other people's remarks would act to stimulate your own ideas in a sort of chain reaction of ideas.
Groups are not at all necessary for deliberate creative thinking, and Serious Creativity describes techniques for individuals to use to produce ideas. In a group you have to listen to others and you may spend time repeating your own ideas so they get sufficient attention. Thinking as a group using brainstorming can certainly produce ideas, but individual thinking using techniques such as those described by de Bono should be employed.
de Bono believes that individuals are much better at generating ideas and fresh directions. Once the idea has been born then a group may be better able to develop the idea and take it in more directions than can the originator.
Return to Techniques Page
Last updated: 18th October 1996