Leading Brainstorming in the Workplace:  Your Free How-to Guide

Creativity is at the Forefront of Every Business

Ever seen the Tom Hanks movie Apollo 13? Remember the room full of guys at NASA who had to figure out how to keep their stranded astronauts alive by rigging a critical repair using a notebook cover, duct tape, plastic bags, hoses, and other odds and ends? A right-before-your-eyes example of collaboration and innovation in action. But you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to reap the benefits of brainstorming.

With stiff competition and rapid—often unpredictable—change disrupting our business world, companies need to be more creative and innovative than ever. As individuals, we need those same capabilities to compete for jobs, to advance at work, or to lead teams of employees in developing new products, services, and solutions to business challenges.

Senior executives increasingly look to learning and development professionals to empower employees, leaders, and teams to be more creative and innovative problem-solvers and decision-makers. One of the most valuable and collaborative skills L&D can teach people is how to brainstorm effectively. That's why we've included a How-to Guide in this post.

Beyond Innovation, Brainstorming Has Multiple Uses

he workplace isn’t only about innovation. It’s a great way to support better outcomes in other areas, too:

  • Collaboration. Research reported by Queens University of Charlotte (NC) notes that about 75% of employers rate collaboration and teamwork as “very important,” but that nearly 4 in 10 employees say that collaboration isn’t happening enough in their organizations. Brainstorming offers a constructive (and low cost) mechanism for fostering collaboration. In fact, when offering advice on creating a collaborative culture, advocates the use of brainstorming as a supportive strategy.
  • Team-building.  Salesforce reported that 97% of surveyed businesspeople and educators blame lack of alignment within teams for adversely affecting project results. When done correctly, brainstorming provides a framework that establishes common goals and encourages teams to work together, which creates a sense of synergy as members join forces to share and build on ideas.
  • Decision-making. Brainstorming is an activity that can be done successfully by individuals as well as groups. Still, research suggests that the group setting can be a particularly powerful scenario, especially when decisions need to be made. Harvard Business Review noted that “involving others with the relevant knowledge, experience, and expertise [as opposed to considering issues in isolation] improves the quality” of decisions

Whether you’ve been charged with driving innovation, encouraging collaboration, building stronger teams, or making better decisions, brainstorming can be a powerful multipurpose business (and personal) tool.

Leading Brainstorming Effectively - Our "How-To" Guide

This 3-Part Guide walks you through a before-during-and-after-the-session approach you can apply to set your team up for success.

Most brainstorming is done in person to capitalize on collaboration and group synergy. Certainly, virtual teams can, and increasingly do, brainstorm, too. However, the approach must be modified to the virtual setting, the technologies used, and other relevant factors, which calls for a different set of skills. Today, our focus is on leading in-person brainstorming meetings capably and confidently.

We hope you will download, save or print the Guide and then practice the effective brainstorming techniques provided.

As you do, beware of the common brainstorming pitfalls listed in the sidebar to the right. 

Take Brainstorming to the Next Level

When you’re on point for developing innovative new products, seeking strategies to enhance collaboration and teamwork, or searching for solutions to baffling business problems, brainstorming can be a valuable tool. And when you know how to conduct a brainstorming session effectively, you’ll empower your team to produce the best possible results.

Please feel free to share the blog and "How-To" Guide with your team members and colleagues to help drive greater collaboration and brainstorming success throughout the organization.


Ready to take your skills to the next level? Whether it’s time to train the trainer or help your team members and others build new capabilities, Media Partners has your back with award-winning, content-rich videos. Take a deeper dive into brainstorming, collaboration, and high performance team leadership with these engaging titles available for full-length preview now on the Media Partners website:

What NOT to Do When Brainstorming

  1. Don't try to save time by combining the brainstorming idea-generation session with the follow-up session to critique and evaluate ideas.
  2. Don't attempt spontaneous  brainstorming - effective idea - generation sessions require some planning.
  3. Don't leave participants in the dark or surprise them with the purpose of the meeting - let them know in advance what the goals are.
  4. Don't fall into the trap of inviting to the meeting as many people as you possibly can - more is not always better. 
  5. Don't invite only people who think and know all about the topic - this may apppear to make the session run more smoothly, but you will not get the diversity of thought needed.
  6. Don't have the boss or a VIP lead the session - employees are often hesitant to voice new ideas in front of executives. 
  7. Don't play it safe. Encourage people to think outside the box and welcome unusual ideas. 
  8. Don't forget to take good notes - you'll want to remember the important suggestions.