Brainstorming Doesn't Work: Try Brainwriting Instead

By Rachael Brothers

Rebecca Greenfield is a Staff Writer at Fast Company. In her article Brainstorming Doesn't Work:Try This Technique Instead, she interviews top management professors at the Kellogg School; Leigh Thompson and Loran Nordgren about the topic of brainwriting.

"As sexy as brainstorming is, with people popping like champagne with ideas, what actually happens is when one person is talking you're not thinking of your own ideas" (Thompson, 2014).

The atmosphere changes when one or two people are dominating the conversation. This can lead to a shortage of idea exchange, due to people immediately launching into ways to implement the newly stated ideas. Nordgren describes this as the "anchoring effect", and it can lead to a diminished creative atmosphere and lack of solutions for the problem.

Brainwriting can help to reduce this phenomenon by creating a more neutral environment and result in an influx of creative ideas. To achieve this, Nordgren and Thompson suggest a step-by-step creative process to help eliminate the dominate speakers, and encourage the more introverted ones.

  • First, have students write down their ideas either prior to, or during the beginning of the meeting.
  • Then post the ideas on a white board or other surface so that every idea is visible to the room.

The key here, is to make sure no one has their name on the idea or tries to guess who wrote it. The goal is to keep the ideas neutral so that everyone has a fair shot, then vote on their favorites and openly discuss the top candidates.

When companies use Brainwriting during their meetings, they will help produce more effective brainstorming sessions by: generating more ideas with less discussion domination, and assemble a collection of more diverse, and creative ideas.

To learn more, please visit this article: “Brainstorming Doesn’t Work; Try This Technique Instead” from the July 29, 2014 post at


Greenfield, R. (2014, July 29). Brainstorming Doesn't Work; Try This Technique Instead. Retrieved September 24, 2014, from


Special thanks to: Pamela K. Coke- Associate Professor of English Education Director, CSU English Education Program, Douglas Hoffman- Professor of Marketing, University Distinguished Teaching Scholar and David A. McKelfresh, Ph.D.- Executive Director, Assessment and Research, Division of Student Affairs Program Chair, CSU For forwarding this teaching tip suggestion.