Idea Killers Squash Brainstorming Enthusiasm

By Jeri Denniston, Chief Marketing Strategist, Denner Group International

Takeaways: Idea killers are people who can dampen or destroy the enthusiasm in a brainstorming session. How you deal with them is critical to turning an unproductive session into a productive one, despite these participants.

SmartStormingWe’ve all experienced it. You’re in a meeting with your colleagues and the boss asks for ideas to solve a particular problem. As people begin to offer them, one person present puts a damper on every idea contributed. It may even be the boss.

In their book SmartStorming, co-authors Mitchell Rigie and Keith Harmeyer talk about brainstorming as a collaborative process that often generates interesting ideas and results. Unfortunately, amongst the participants frequently you’ll find a few idea killers who can turn the process into a less than pleasant experience. Here are a few offenders the authors list in their book. See if you can identify any of them in your organization.

Attention vampires. These people always have to be the center of attention. They push their ideas forward and tend to dominant the conversation, often putting a damper on the brainstorming process.

Dictators. Every idea is great as long as it’s theirs. This reminds me of the commercial where the boss says, “There are three ways to do this: My way! My way! and My way!”

Idea Assassins. These people love to shoot down ideas. They always see everything wrong about any new concept. Rather than looking at the positives, they are first to point out all the possible negatives and flaws.

Obstructionists. They over-complicate everything, bringing up unrelated information that seems related but really isn’t, derailing the flow of ideas. They tend to over-think everything.

Social loafers. These people show up but don’t participate, appearing bored or aloof, letting everyone else generate the ideas.

Wet blankets. These are the pessimists who instantly shut down the enthusiasm of the session. Even though the majority of their comments aren’t viable, they succeed in turning a positive mood into a depressing one.

On their website,SmartStorming, the authors offer a variety of programs to help trainers learn methodology to conduct effective brainstorming sessions. These include a variety of tools to strengthen problem-solving activities. What are some of the ways you deal with these idea killers when you encounter them? Let us know by commenting on my LinkedIn post. Or fill out the contact form and let us know directly.

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About Jeri Denniston

Jeri Denniston is a certified Strategic Management Professional with proven performance in strategic marketing, social media strategies, management, public relations, and business planning. During her career she has mentored and trained co-workers and staff in communication and leadership skills, facilitated board and management retreats, led workshops in strategic management and systems thinking, and directed strategic planning projects for the development of new products and markets in the financial, marketing information and publishing industries. Skilled in digital marketing, she teaches internet marketing and social media & mobile marketing at Yavapai College. Jeri's language skills include high level fluency in Spanish and proficiency in French. She has a masters in international management from Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, AZ.