A person of higher status in the group brainstorm session is likely to induce evaluation apprehension in lower status group members who would be unwilling to volunteer ideas (Gallupe et al., 1992).
Downward norm setting also occurs in group brainstorm sessions whereby individuals in groups tend to set lower idea-generating goals than they would had they worked in isolation in order to match the performance of the lowest performing members (Larey and Paulus, 1995).
Brainstorms are also an efficient way to disperse design knowledge among IDEO engineers, reminding experienced designers and teaching newcomers about which solutions had been considered in the past and spreading information about solutions that are new to the company.
The design solutions acquired, recalled, and developed in brainstorms are stored mostly in three locations.
In addition to adding to and preserving IDEO's memory, brainstorms are a setting in which old design solutions are retrieved and then adapted and blended together to help solve new design problems.
The most fruitful brainstorms are when at least one participant has a good deal of specific, available knowledge from a different area that is still very applicable.
Designers in brainstorms retrieve ideas from past brainstorms, from products they or others they knew had designed, from ongoing IDEO projects, and from personal experiences prior to and outside of IDEO.
So our first answer to the "effectiveness at what" question is that brainstorms help add to, maintain, and draw on IDEO's memory of design solutions.
As Table 1 indicates, designers laughed, joked, and smiled in brainstorms, described them as "a vacation" and "fun," and agreed with the survey item that "Brainstorms are one of the most fun things I do at IDEO." A newcomer even wondered if they had "too much fun" in brainstorms and ought to present a "more serious image." IDEO designers enjoyed brainstorms partly because of extrinsic pleasures like good food, "hanging out" with friends, and the chance to bill time to clients.
Going to brainstorms also expands the skills a designer uses during a typical day or week.
IDEO brainstorms provide the opportunity to use high-level technical skills, a benefit not given to most participants in brainstorming experiments.
They are here because they love designing stuff and you get to stick your fingers into more things to design." IDEO engineers enjoy brainstorms because they are a way to "stick their fingers" into many design problems, apply design knowledge in new ways, and learn about new products and industries without ruining progress on their long-term projects.