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How to generate the best ideas

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Do you want a brainstorming session to generate one great idea or several above-average ones? A new study looked at two models:

  1. Assembling a group of people and having them come up with product ideas.
  2. Asking individuals to work on ideas by themselves before sharing their thinking.

Who came up with better ideas? The first group came up with the best idea—and the worst. The second group generated more ideas that were, on average, of higher quality.

Conclusion? For the best ideas, say the researchers, you need to have a pure brainstorming group.

There’s a catch, though. Traditional brainstorming teams often have difficulty recognizing the best ideas, since members tend to “second” whatever the boss is leaning toward. Tip: Make sure top leaders stay mum.

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