A survey of 20,000 creatives suggests brainstorming is a giant waste of time

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Perhaps more than any other category of professionals, creative types are expected to thrive in brainstorms. In the public’s imagination, their offices are filled with fidget toys and Post-it notes in an array of colors, all meant to absorb some of the energy of a group of fast-thinking, well-dressed hipsters deep in ideation mode.

But a new report based on a survey of 20,000 creatives from 197 countries suggests that, in fact, a majority of these professionals—including writers, musicians, photographers, and podcasters—find that brainstorming is largely unhelpful for solving a creative challenge.

The survey, commissioned by the Dutch file-sharing company WeTransfer, attests to the perils of this form of groupthink. “In the creative world we hear an awful lot about collaboration, but it seems that while working together is essential to bring an idea to life, it’s not that good for shaping ideas in the first place,” notes Rob Alderson, WeTransfer’s recently departed editor in chief.

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