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Collaboration Is Not The Same As Brainstorming –

January 24, 2012

I am not a fan of brainstorming. But I am a fan of purposeful collaboration. And to some this may appear a contradiction. In an excellent article in a recent New York Times, Susan Cain explores the dangers of groupthink and the horrors of noisy, distracted offices. She points out that true genius needs solitude and time to think. Perhaps academia and ideas do. But innovation does not. As Matt Ridley pointed out, ‘ideas have sex’ – and economic and business history is littered with examples of pioneering that was only achieved by the accidental mixing, the casual alliance or the perfect partnership – at just the right time.

Whilst it may require some peace and some introspection to think through a problem – building a better solution is best achived with a blend of talents, insights and knowledge.  Its as much an art as a science. Customers, suppliers, industry allies, IP owners and agencies, the team from the local firm – and yes, even those guys across the office – may have a valuable spark that will cause your innovation fire to burn.  Brainstorming and the resulting groupthink is a highly damaging and over valued process. And that is why collaboration and innovation – is not the same as groupthink or brainstorming.

For the full article – please see –  The Rise of the New Groupthink – NYT (versus seclusion and immersion).

For further information on marketing partnerships and collaboration, see or visit

  1. greggfraley permalink

    Andrew, I had a similar take on the Susan Cain piece. Her thesis holds some truth, but in my view it’s more about Both+AND. To innovate one needs to think reflectively alone, and work with others.

  2. greggfraley permalink

    I had another take on the Susan Cain piece, similar to yours. Essentially, innovation requires BOTH solitary work and collaborative work. I am a fan of brainstorming if it’s done well; sadly not so many facilitators know how!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. The Partnership Paradox: On GE’s 2012 Innovation Monitor « Andrew Armour's Benchstone Blog
  2. Partnerships Big & The Small: Some Just Don’t Get It « Andrew Armour's Benchstone Blog
  3. The CollaborativeEdge – Part One: The Paradox « Andrew Armour's Benchstone Blog
  4. The CollaborativeEdge Part Two: The Programme « Andrew Armour's Benchstone Blog

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