The Perfect ‘Storm

A Look into The Ideal Mix of Personalities for Your Next Brainstorm

We’ve all been there. It’s time for a brainstorm and you have to figure out the best mix of coworkers to invite. A brainstorm is only as good as its weakest link – so, no pressure, right? When you start to think about all of the different personalities that exist out there, it can start to become a bit overwhelming.

Think of yourself as the brainstorm casting director – it’s critical to make sure the right characters are in the room to get (and keep!) the creative juices flowing. Through our research, we’ve determined who you need to invite (and who you might want to avoid) and will explain the perfect invite list in detail.

 

MUST HAVES

Ringleaders
If you’re reading this article to see who to invite to your next brainstorm, this person is probably YOU! You (and your team) will be the ones actually working on the business and will be doing your homework to prep for the brainstorm. Before any brainstorming begins, you’ll share the client’s goals, objectives, target audiences, budget, etc. You’re also responsible for keeping the group on track and deciding the best brainstorming technique(s) that will work to your advantage.

Industry Experts
This type might not be a part of the core team, but knows everything there is to know about the industry you’re brainstorming. This is where it’s important to know your coworkers and their likes/dislikes. Even if someone doesn’t directly work in the industry currently, it may be a passion point for them or an industry they worked on in a prior life – so don’t necessarily count them out! This means if you’re hosting a brainstorm for the next big pet food brand, don’t forget to include the coworker who refers to her cat as her child.

Seasoned Intellectuals
Typically, the most senior leadership in any agency is well-known for the crazy creative ideas they’ve come up with in the past. It’s probably a big part of what got them where they are. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect, right? Safe to say, you’d be sorely mistaken if you didn’t extend the invite to a least a few of them.

Newbies
On the contrary, getting a little fresh blood in the room is always a good idea. This young, go-getter type is just excited to be a part of the equation. Their end goal is to fit in with the Seasoned Intellectuals, so give them a chance to show their stuff.  Not to mention – they’re fresh out of college and may bring a new way of thinking to the group.

Wild Cards
These pie-in-the-sky, head-in-the-clouds brainstormers don’t constrict themselves to budget limits or what’s been done before. They’re the type that are known for generating large ideas that are unencumbered by real world limitations like space or time. They brainstorm creative ideas with no boundaries and challenge others in the room to do the same. 

Scribes
Arguably one of the most important roles in any brainstorm is that of the scribe. What good are these crazy ideas if no one can remember them when they leave the room? The best scribes capture everything from big, small, creative, tactical or, let’s face it, downright stupid (no bad ideas!). This person does not filter the ideas as they’re thrown out and immediately types up the notes while the brainstorm session is fresh in their mind.

 

THANKS, BUT NO THANKS

Idea Crusher
You know the type. They’ve been briefed just as much as you have, but seem to know that the client would hate that idea. Or maybe your idea would cost too much money. Or not work logistically. Or doesn’t make sense. Or, Or, Or – they find a way to throw in the ultimate brainstorming no no word and crush the majority of the ideas offered up. Realistically, they don’t add anything to a brainstorm (except for a fair amount of frustration).

Busy Bee
As a rule of thumb, it’s best to only invite people to your brainstorm who want to be there. It may seem silly, but if someone’s mind is preoccupied with their own work and clients, they basically may as well not show up! They clearly aren’t focused on coming up with creative ideas for your client if they will just be on their phone or laptop the whole time. *Pro tip: consider asking all of your brainstormers to drop all devices at the door.

 

THE RESERVE ‘STORMERS

Silent Sally
Inevitably there will always be someone who attends a brainstorm but remains silent from start to finish. Maybe they’re too timid to share their ideas or maybe they’re just sitting back and taking it all in but, either way, they are not helping your brainstorm! Silence has a way of dragging people down so maybe the best way to tap into these introverts is to give them a brief and ask them to think about it separately. Truth is, they may be very creative people who just need more time to marinate.

 

In addition to a healthy mix of the must have personality types listed above, make sure to invite a combination of generations, genders, introverts and extroverts who fall into each category. The key to this casting call is to think about all of the different perspectives, experiences, values and skill sets your coworkers have to offer and use them to your (client’s) benefit.

Happy casting!

 

Shana Walther
Shana Walther, Director, Marketing & New Business