10 reasons why brainstorming sucks
Over the years, I’ve had to endure more brainstorms than I care to remember. In my opinion, they are a waste of employee time and company money and anyone who suggests having one should be banished to live with the lepers beyond the city gates.
And here are my reasons:
“There’s no such thing as a bad idea”
Really? As far as I’m aware, most ideas are bad ideas. Good ideas are pretty rare. And the purpose of brainstorms are to produce a large volume of ideas in the hope that one of them will be amazing. That’s not a good use of anyone’s time.
This is business, so let’s be ruthless. Surely the way to measure the value of a brainstorm would be to add the cost of the man-hours involved and divide them by the quality of the solution (I know quality is a hard thing to measure – let’s not get into that!) Then compare the result with other problem-solving techniques like just having two smart people working together on the same thing. There have been studies done on this and they all indicate that brainstorms are ineffective and uneconomical.
The big mouths win
Very often the people who are most vocal are not the ones with the most to contribute. They’re just the ones who like having an opportunity to make themselves heard. And thanks to the principles of brainstorming you’re not allowed to tell them to shut up because their idea’s shit.
Some people are more equal than others
The people invited to a brainstorm aren’t the ones with the ability and experience of solving problems. I know that a good idea can come from anywhere – but in general it doesn’t. Sorry.
Blunderbuss versus sniper’s rifle
Good ideas are simple. They’re focussed. They’re easy to understand. To produce something like that, your effort needs to go into removing the unnecessary until you’re left with something pure. Not throwing more turds at the blanket.
Democracy never produces anything extraordinary
This idea of giving everyone an equal voice and right to an opinion is OK for producing something inoffensive that most people can tolerate. Big ideas and true innovations come from visionary individuals.
People are lazy and don’t prepare
To be (slightly) fair to the concept of brainstorming, they generally aren’t done properly and that is one of the reasons for their failure. The organiser of the brainstorm is supposed to narrow the session down to one specific question and send background information to the attendees. Even if they do that, it seems that very few people actually prepare for the brainstorm in advance. So time is wasted in outlining the issue and then the session loses focus because people still don’t get it.
People don’t care enough
There’s nothing at stake for the attendees if they fail to come up with anything. They’re not accountable and can just freewheel without consequence. To them, it’s just a couple of hours away from the dull monotony of their desk and a chance to talk bollocks and eat biscuits.
What do you do with all that shit?
After the brainstorm, someone has to go through it all to pick out the gems (assuming there are some). Very often the person doing that isn’t really qualified to do so and misses the interesting stuff. The crap floats to the top.
The term is offensive to 0.03% of all epileptics
And that just isn’t good enough, is it?