From The New Yorker: In the late nine­teen-forties, Alex Osborn, a partner of the adver­tising agency B.B.D.O., decided to write a book in which he shared all of his creative secrets. “Your Creative Power” was filled with a variety of tricks and strate­gies, but Osborn’s most cele­brated idea was the one discussed in Chapter 33, “How to Orga­nize a Squad to Create Ideas.” When a group works together, he wrote, the members should engage in a “brain­storm.” The book outlined the essen­tial rules of a successful brain­storming session. The single most impor­tant of these, Osborn said, was the absence of crit­i­cism and nega­tive feed­back. Brain­storming was an imme­diate hit and Osborn became a popular busi­ness guru. The under­lying assump­tion of brain­storming is that if people are scared of saying the wrong thing, they’ll end up saying nothing at all. Typi­cally, partic­i­pants leave a brain­storming session proud of their contri­bu­tion. The white­board has been filled with free asso­ci­a­tions. At such moments, brain­storming can seem like an ideal mental tech­nique, a feel-good way to boost produc­tivity. But there is one over­whelming problem with brain­storming. It doesn’t work. · Go to Brain­storming doesn’t really work →