Oh, my naivete! The response to the talk was not as expected. The last thing this development group wanted -- particularly the managers-- was ways to generate more ideas. Like many companies, we had way too many ideas, and way too few resources to assign to them; and way too many bullheaded managers who wanted to try it their way, not some peon's way.
Bob Sutton, author of the famous No Asshole Rule about which I've blogged before, has a nice post that gets at this issue and others related to brainstorming. It's must reading, amid all the talk about "innovation" and idea generation that companies produce today.
Some of the most relevant quotes:
But I assert that brainstorming only makes a difference if it is part of a larger create process, as you see at IDEO, Pixar, and other places that do real creative work. If the group doesn't do some preparation and doesn't use the ideas generated -- if they don't later battle over which are best, prototype some ideas, test them, try to implement them -- then it is just a bunch of useless ideas and perhaps a fun meeting. ... Brainstorming is something that doesn't work well in organizational cultures that are very authoritarian, where people view meetings as places to crush others and their ideas, where people have trouble with ambiguity, or where people do not feel otherwise psychologically safe.At that old company, I think we changed the name from "brainstorming" to something dull but honest, like "idea discussion." And even that was optimistic in an unsafe, authoritarian, argumentative culture.