It's been recognised for a number of years, despite its popularity, that brainstorming isn't the best way to create ideas. Business psychologist Peter Heslin has come up with the idea of Brainwriting which it is claimed is much more effective.
Brainwriting encourage group members to engage with each others' ideas. Briefly, it involves four group members writing ideas on slips of paper in silence. Group members pass the slips of paper between each other, reading others' ideas and inserting their own. Ink colour indicates who owns which ideas and when a paper slip has four ideas on it, it is placed in the centre of the table for all to see. This is repeated up to 25 times. The second stage involves group members withdrawing to the corners of the room and recalling as many of the ideas generated so far as possible - the rationale being that this encourages attention to the ideas generated. The final stage involves group members working alone for 15 minutes in an attempt to generate yet more ideas.
I tried this technology last week with a group of 20 senior managers. The group were a little resistant at first - however to their credit they were able to suspend their disbelief and had a go at making it work. The results were, to quote one of the group "tremendous". The room did feel energised during the process and the outcomes more than met the expectations set at the star of the day. I'm not sure this proves that Brainwriting is the best way to create ideas however it did work for the group in question and I plan to use it again as soon as the opportunity arises.
Source: British Psychological Society