Everyone claims to know how to brainstorm. The rules are universal:

Be open
Explore all ideas
Actively contribute
Make connections
Write everything down
Never say NO!

You know it, I know it, everyone knows it.

So why do most brainstorms fail?

Because of the (often) unsaid rules.

Leave ego at the door
Be fascinated
Explore ‘What if?’
Use colour
Ask the stupid question
Ask the next question
Forget the budget
Oh, and leave ego at the door

What have I missed out? You can leave your brainstorming tips here.

Be Brilliant!



  1. October 26th 2017 by Barry Nicol

    I am pretty certain it was in one of your own books Michael, but the ‘what if….’ questions are brilliant. ‘What if we increased our fees…?’, ‘What if we cut delivery times in half….?’, ‘What if we started the business today……what would we do different?’
    The ‘what if…’ questions have been one of the best changes I have seen in meetings. A lot of people sometimes don’t know if there is a line when it comes to ideas and so sometimes it is great to put some ‘out-there’ suggestions in the pot yourself as this can help the others really see that no idea is off the table.

  2. October 26th 2017 by Fiona Setch

    Great article ! I so enjoy brainstorming and encourage others to whenever they can in meetings, one to one’s as well as training events.
    I approach all brainstorming with what I call “my spirit of curiosity ” and coloured pens. All ideas are like little seeds of possibilities that grow, develop & bloom with watering and sprinkles of enthusiasm !!
    Even when working with one coaching client I use a portable flipchart or blank white paper so my client can see their ideas and they like to photograph these and keep them on their phone.
    Brightly coloured post its are great to use and can be moved around.
    I think I use a mind map like a brainstorm, in fact I am making a mind map now about brainstorming !

  3. October 26th 2017 by Hamish

    One of the reasons brainstorming sessions are not as productive as they can be is because they are dominated by the extroverts. The quieter types do not contribute. So what I have done in the past is pose the question and then get all participants to write their responses on post it notes and then put those up on the wall for discussion. hope this helps

  4. October 26th 2017 by Diane Goulding


  5. October 26th 2017 by Stuart Burton

    When I trained as a car salesman almost 50 years ago and before all the PC rubbish, ask a closing question and shut up. He who talks first loses. It worked like a dream and I have no doubt that this incredibly strong advice may be easily included in brainstorming.

  6. October 26th 2017 by Martin Clarke

    After all the ideas have run out, and it all goes quiet, have a short break for water/a walk/the loo and let the group come back to it. You often get some good ideas then. If it is in a wider team, pin up the results in the corridor or coffee area, and let others add to it

  7. October 27th 2017 by Alan Jones

    Firstly,always listen to the views of subordinates – they quite often have unusual and sometimes brilliant ideas.
    Secondly, get the chairperson to force ‘the rhetorics’ to stand in a corner with their backs to the meeting to give somebody else a chance of a viewpoint!

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