Cocktail party trivia: Brainstorming was invented in the 1930s as a practical idea-generation technique for regular use by “creatives” within the ad agency BBDO. That all changed in 1942, when Alex Osborn — the “O” in BBDO — released a book called How to Think Up and excited the imaginations of his fellow Mad Men.
Since 1942, the idea-generation technique that began life in a New York creative firm has grown into the happy kudzu of Silicon Valley startups. Somewhere near Stanford, an introvert cringes every time the idea comes up of sitting in a roomful of colleagues, drawing half-baked ideas on Post-it notes, and then pasting them to the wall for all to see. (If this is you, watch David Kelley’s TED Talk on creative confidence, followed by Susan Cain’s on the power of introverts.)
I’ve run a lot of brainstorms over the years: with designers at…
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