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Get your brainstorm right

I'm currently reading the popular-despite-not-being-released-in-the-UK-yet Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer (any relation to the great Tom? We ought to know).

As someone who has helped people with creativity for over 15 years it is really interesting to see the approaches that have been pragmatically adopted for so long get some scientific basis with brain studies to support what those practising in the field have known for a long time.

However, Mr Lehrer does make one big error (admittedly following an academic who did the same thing). He isn't very impressed with Alex Osborn's method of brainstorming as a way of generating ideas. But the thing he totally misses, as so many do, is that Alex Osborn didn't devise brainstorming as a method for coming up with new ideas. It was simply a way of collecting ideas that ensured they weren't evaluated too soon and shot down before they could be thought about a little more and developed.

What Osborn always intended, but so many forget, is that the intention was for people to use an idea generating technique - a totally separate process - to come up with the idea, and then make use of brainstorming to collect these ideas. Without this generation component, brainstorming is pretty useless. But then driving a car doesn't work too well if you don't put petrol in it - and that's the exact equivalent of what Lehrer is proposing.

If you want to get a better idea of how brainstorming should really be used, do feel free to avail yourself of my free ebook, Instant Brainstorming where I try to put the record straight.


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