One of beautiful thing about brainstorming is the greater the diversity of people you have involved in a brainstorming session, the better the output should be. One challenging thing about brainstorming is, however, the more people you involve in brainstorming sessions the more likely you are to run into six types of people who have trouble being productive within typical brainstorming rules.

6 Challenging Types to Manage in Brainstorming Sessions



1. The Approval Seeker

Approval seekers will share an idea, but quickly look around the group for signs of approval. While we all want to feel supported in our ideas, having someone continually going out of their way to get approval can slow down and distract the brainstorming group from the immediate task.

2. The Dominant Authority Figure

When the “big boss” is in the brainstorming session, there’s always a possibility he or she will wind up playing the part of the dominant authority figure. They may try to dominate the conversation, withhold participation if they don’t like the session's direction, or pass judgment on everything that’s shared.

3. The Over-Participating Team Member

An over-participating team member can’t help but share all kinds of information about the topic the group’s brainstorming is addressing. By sharing lots of personal knowledge, they subtly (or not so subtly) wind up trying to sway the group results to a personal worldview.

4. Mistake Haters

These brainstorming session participants are characterized by silence. Afraid of saying the wrong thing, causing a negative reaction from others, or simply feeling as if there isn’t enough time to think about ideas in the session, mistake haters sit back and watch the action without offering their own ideas.

5. Judges

As the name implies, judges are ready to assess each idea as it is shared in the brainstorming session. They often do this in the spirit of time efficiency and saving the brainstorming group (or the broader organization) from wasting time on ideas they know won’t work.

6. Apologizers

Another name for Apologizers could be “Extroverted Mistake Haters” since when they share ideas they typically start with, “This probably . . . doesn’t make sense / has already been considered / isn’t a good idea.” Through judging ideas themselves, they are either seeking to beat the Judges to the punch or lower expectations for their contribution among the brainstorming group.

What brainstorming techniques work in these cases? We know!

Getting these people to think in a brainstorming session isn’t impossible, but it requires brainstorming techniques and an adept facilitator who can manage brainstorming rules and the session. Sometimes you know who will be challenges when planning brainstorming sessions. In other cases, it doesn’t become evident until brainstorming is already underway.

If you expect these challenging types will struggle generating concepts and ideas in your organization, let’s talk to help think through planning brainstorming sessions that will contribute to your organization’s objectives.  – Mike Brown

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Is your organization challenged with new thinking and ideas that lead to successful business results? The Brainzooming Group and our tested approach to generating concepts you can act on successfully will quickly move you toward success. Email us at or call 816-509-5320 for a free consultation on how to get started.