The 1940s book that popularized “brainstorming” is also an ode to solitude as a balm for the imagination.
Some companies have a serious addiction to brainstorming. Whenever a problem arises, the team is called to gather and shout out possible solutions, with at least one notetaker scrambling to get everything down. It’s as if this were the only known way out of a pickle, or into a new project—and it can feel like a supreme waste of time, especially when the same few dominating personalities ruin the mood.
Yet the value of brainstorming is rarely questioned. (A notable exception is a 2012 New Yorker story arguing that research cannot scientifically validate the effectiveness of the custom, but even that did little to get in the way of its ubiquity.) Perhaps that’s because the idea…
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