Why Your Smartphone Is Making Your Brainstorming Dumber- Valutrics

When many teams run into a problem, there’s a default tactic they use to find a solution: brainstorming. As brainstorming has become the method of choice, there’s been a LOT of writing on trying to measure its effectiveness, as well as make it more effective. But recent research suggests there might be a simple trick to making any brainstorming session dramatically more productive.

Check cell phones at the door.

In a recent study, researchers found that participants who had their smartphones with them–even if they were turned off–scored significantly worse on tests of cognitive capacity.

In other words, your smartphone might be making you dumber.

In the study, researchers took a group of nearly 800 participants and gave them various tests, most of which involved sitting at a computer screen to answer questions and solve problems that required full attention. Some of the participants were told to keep their smartphones on the computer desk, others were told to put it in a pocket or purse, and others were made to keep the phone in another room.

The researchers found that the participants who checked their phones at the door significantly outperformed those who were allowed to keep their phones on the desk. The “no phones in the room” group also slightly outperformed those who kept phones in their pocket or bag. In a follow-up study, the researchers also asked participants to rate their daily dependence on their smart phones. When looking at the results from this version, those who were most dependent on their phones still performed far worse than less-dependent peers when their smartphones were in the room.

In both studies, it didn’t seem to matter if the phone was turned on or off, or face up or face down. The mere presence of a smartphone in the room with participants reduces their ability to focus and solve problems.

The evidence suggests that your team will be much smarter in meetings, including brainstorming meetings, if they leave their phones at the door. But switching from our “always on; always online” world to a “check cell phones at the door” reality might be a hard transition. If so, consider trying to nudge people to leave their phones The evidence paints a compelling picture: If you want your team to be fully focused and maximally creative, check their smart phones at the door.