Cancel That Brainstorm. There’s a Better Way to Spur Good Ideas.

OK, people, let’s spitball some topics for this column. Annoying co-workers you would like to replace with artificial intelligence? Office wardrobe malfunctions? Bosses’ secret TikTok accounts? Go ahead, shout ’em out. There are no bad ideas.

This brainstorming exercise is, in fact, a terrible idea—not only because I can’t hear you. The value of gathering to swap loosely formed thoughts is highly suspect, despite being a major reason many companies want workers back in offices.

“You do not get your best ideas out of these freewheeling brainstorming sessions,” says Sheena Iyengar, a professor at Columbia Business School. “You will do your best creative work by yourself.”

Iyengar has compiled academic research on idea generation, including a decade of her own interviews with more than a thousand people, into a book called “Think Bigger.” It concludes that group brainstorming is usually a waste of time. 

Pitfalls include blabbermouths with mediocre suggestions and…

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