When we're confronting a vexing problem, we often gather a group to brainstorm. We're looking to get the best ideas as quickly as possible. I love seeing it happen—except for one tiny wrinkle. Group brainstorming usually backfires.
In brainstorming meetings, many good ideas are lost— and few are gained. Extensive evidence shows that when we generate ideas together, we fail to maximize collective intelligence. Brainstorming groups fall so far short of their potential that we get more ideas—and better ideas—if we all work alone. As the humorist Dave Barry quipped, "If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be: 'meetings.' " But the problem isn't meetings themselves—it's how we run them.
[...] Collective intelligence begins with individual creativity. But it doesn't end there. Individuals produce a greater volume and variety of novel ideas when they work alone. That means that they come up with more brilliant ideas than groups—but also more terrible ideas than groups. It takes collective judgment to find the signal in the noise and bring the best ideas to fruition.
From HIDDEN POTENTIAL by Adam Grant
I am sure most of you have spent time "brain storming" ... was it productive or wasted time ?