Do you like to Brainstorm?

If you asked the general public what people in an ad agency do all day, they’d probably say ‘brainstorm’.

And it’s true that brainstorms do actually take place, almost every day, in nearly every ad agency in the world.

And yet… there’s quite a division of opinion on their merits.

Some Creatives don’t like to brainstorm, perhaps because they feel more comfortable being creative in their own quiet space, or just with their partner.

Others, meanwhile, find it incredibly stimulating to throw ideas around - they relish the back-and-forth between people with different ways of thinking, and actively enjoy the democracy of the process.

Then aside from whether they’re enjoyable, there’s also a debate about the efficacy of a brainstorm.

Do they really produce a heap of ideas, say the nay-sayers, or just a pile of Post-It notes that get left in the room at the end, and never actioned?

And yet, what do 90% of creative directors do when there’s a really urgent problem, and they need it cracked quickly? They hold a brainstorm, whether planned or impromptu. No doubt they feel that with a brainstorm, they are at least guaranteed to receive multiple solutions, from multiple perspectives, and quickly.

It seems there’s no definitive answer to the debate. The internet is equally split between articles in praise of group creativity, and other articles claiming that brainstorms don’t work.

So the debate goes on, while brainstorms continue to be one of the pre-eminent creative problem-solving methods, as they have been for almost 80 years.

However, an interesting new approach has been developed within Google Ventures – the arm of Google that invests in technology start-ups. They have devised an alternative method they call ‘Sprint’, which involves giving a problem to multiple individuals or small teams, who work separately, but meet once a day and review all the ideas together, anonymously.

With a Sprint, there are fewer solutions generated than there are in a brainstorm, but the theory is that because they’re not created in a group, they’re not subject to the issue of ‘groupthink’ that can take hold of a brainstorm.

And because they’re reviewed anonymously, it should be the best idea that wins, and not the idea from whoever is the best presenter.

So what do you think? Do you like brainstorms, or do you loathe them? Do they work? And would you be willing to try a Brainstorm 2.0, in the form of a Sprint?