Study finds brainstorming 'rules' can lead to real-world success in business settings

Sep 27, 2010

Researchers have long held that there are steps that can be taken to make brainstorming sessions more productive. New research from North Carolina State University finds that these recommendations actually do contribute to success when applied in real-world business environments.

"Previous research has laid out best practices that are conducive to brainstorming, or group decision making, and we wanted to see whether using those practices makes a difference in the real world," says Dr. Joe Brazel, associate professor of accounting at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the research.

"We found that, when tackling complex issues, the use of best practices to produce high-quality brainstorming did result in better decision making," Brazel says. For example, if an accounting firm has a client with a high fraud risk, what procedures do you need to employ in order to detect fraud? "When an audit team had taken steps to ensure high-quality brainstorming, we found them employing fraud detection techniques, such as surprise inventory checks, sales verifications, et cetera. When an audit team wasn't using the brainstorming best practices, we saw them identify risk and then take no pursuant action."

Brainstorming is a required component of the planning process for firms that are responsible for detecting corporate fraud. In this study, the researchers wanted to see if there was variation in how these firms conducted their brainstorming sessions, and whether those variations affected the quality of their work. The study found that there are 21 specific best practices that contributed to successful brainstorming efforts, and that the benefits of high quality brainstorming could be attained when at least 10 to 11 of those practices are put into place - such as the inclusion of subject-matter specialists and an openness to input from all team members.

While this research is certainly applicable to fraud detection, Brazel says that its findings are broadly applicable throughout the business world. "When facing a complex problem in any field of business, this research tells us that it is important to incorporate high-quality brainstorming techniques in order to improve your ability to successfully resolve the problem."

The researchers also found one variable that can negate any potential benefits of high quality brainstorming: managerial bias. If a team leader comes into the brainstorming process with well-known preconceived notions, that effectively short-circuits the effort - and using best practices will not help.

Explore further: Interview blues—anxious, slow talkers often do not get the job

Related Stories

Mindjet boosts online collaboration with Catalyst

Oct 08, 2009

US technology firm Mindjet has unleashed a Catalyst technology platform that "attacks a major problem" in business by helping turn online brainstorming sessions into real-world results.

Recommended for you

Accountancy stereotypes add up to stable profession

14 hours ago

The media is littered with celebrity trainers, bakers, nutritionists, even gardeners. But, one profession is always missing from the roster - the celebrity accountant. The reason is most likely due to the negative stereotypes ...

Volunteers not safe from workplace bullying

15 hours ago

Despite the charitable nature of volunteering, new research from Murdoch University and Edith Cowan University has found one in three volunteers can experience workplace bullying.

The problem with solitary confinement

15 hours ago

It's a practice that has been in the news since the Ashley Smith case first made headlines and, last week, the Ontario government announced it had launched a review of its solitary confinement policies.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.