Step 1: Set fire to haystack.
Step 2: Use big-ass magnet to sift through ashes.
Is this a metaphor, you ask? I suppose. On a discussion board recently, there was a debate about the value of brainstorming, with practitioners defending, and skeptics skepticking. (I side with the neologists).
Brainstorming done well or badly produces between 257 and 311 crappy “ideas” that lead to feelgood self-congratulation but no breakthroughs. Real value can only be produced by a good editor, who sifts through this rubbish with, as it were, a big-ass magnet.