Interview Jeffrey Baumgartner: How to get one amazing idea

Jeffrey Baumgartner is not the sort of guy who settles for the status quo. He has spent the last few decades helping companies come up with new ideas. However, frustrated with the lack of end-product coming out of most brainstorming sessions, he developed a new way to approach the problem: Anti-Conventional Thinking.

In my recent interview with him, we talk about the research behind why brainstorming is so ineffective, and how companies can use Anti-Conventional Thinking.

‘Brainstorming’ was developed as a concept in the 1930s by Alex Osborn, one of the founders of advertising agency BBDO, to get as many ideas as possible from a group. It was based on the following ‘rules’ to encourage ideation as a large group, some of which have since been disproven by scientific studies:

  1. Welcome unusual ideas: No problem with this
  2. Combine and improve ideas: This is fine as well
  3. Withhold criticism: UC Berkeley (2008) showed that when a brainstorming group was allowed to discuss and criticise the group’s ideas, the total number of ideas was higher than a group where criticism was not allowed, and ideas were judged to be of a higher quality.
  4. Focus on quantity: Studies at Yale (1958) and Dr Byron (2013) have shown that when the same number of individuals are asked to come up with ideas individually, they will produce up to 2x as many as a brainstorming group

Jeffrey sums it up perfectly

Where Anti-Conventional Thinking is fundamentally different is that instead of trying to come up with as many ideas as possible, it’s more important to determine a big, sexy goal and work towards developing a single actionable idea by the end of the session. This doesn’t mean that there won’t be multiple ideas discussed throughout the session, instead the focus is on having everyone know what the next steps are once the session is complete.

This is what increases the likelihood that the idea will actually be turned into an innovation.

Jeffrey has also been so kind as to summarise the entire A.C.T. into a 1-page cheat sheet which you can use to kickstart the process in your own company.
He has made it available to readers of Idea to Value if you click the button below:

Send me my A.C.T. cheat sheet

Get Jeffrey's FREE Anti-Conventional Thinking Cheat Sheet

As a special gift to Idea to Value readers, Jeffrey is giving you access to a 1-page cheat sheet on setting up an A.C.T. session which you can start using in less than 10 minutes. Click the button here if you want us to send you your copy.
Send me my A.C.T. cheat sheet

How successful have brainstorming sessions been in your company? Do you think it is better to get a single idea or hundreds of ideas out of them? Let us know in the comments below (we read all comments).

Did you know that scientific evidence shows your creativity decreases over time

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Chief Editor of and Founder / CEO of Improvides Innovation Consulting. Coach / Speaker / Author / TEDx Speaker / Voted as the world's #5 Innovation blogger in 2016, I help individuals and companies build their creativity and innovation capabilities, so you can develop the next breakthrough idea which customers love.
By |2016-11-04T10:38:18+00:00February 23rd, 2016|Innovation|2 Comments


  1. Mike Shipulski February 26, 2016 at 6:10 pm - Reply

    I’ve used Jeffrey’s ACT methodology with great success. The sessions have resulted in thought-provoking prototypes that have changed people’s thinking, and it’s fun.

  2. Simon Chandler March 1, 2016 at 12:42 pm - Reply

    Great interview to get a different perspective, agree criticism used in the right way can significantly improve the quality of the ideas taken forward. Often the way of coming to new ideas is very much controlled by the culture of the business, some organsiations can cope with full on creative sessions others need a very structured processes to achieve just incremental improvements on current products and services.
    To get truly viable ideas one needs to come from the perspective of customers and consumers, what do I want the product or service to do for me, then initial ideas are generated that can be worked on to develop the ideas into a final concepts that has a real chance of commercial success.

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