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Using new people to enhance brainstorming

To show how important this is, let's start with an analogy. Imagine, if you will, that you've decided to make a range of tasty, creative and exciting meals for the coming week. Perhaps you're trying to impress someone. But - ah! - you realize you've got no food in the house. Now, how would you go about stocking your kitchen and refrigerator? Would you go to the cash-and-carry and buy just ten ingredients in bulk? Or would you perhaps go to a supermarket (or several shops) and buy smaller quantities of a large number of different ingredients - some exotic, some staples, some spicy, some bland, some fresh, some dried, ...? Remember, you're trying to produce exciting, varied cooking.

It's the same with brainstorming. If you want to have a good mix of ideas then you should invite a large mix of people - the ingredients. The beauty of having lots of people from different backgrounds is that each of them brings their own unique view of the world. They have had different experiences, know different things and see the world with different priorities.

We recommend that you invite people from different departments in your organization or, at the very least, people from different groups within the same department. We know that this is not normally done in companies because people think that other departments don't know enough about the problem and will only add unhelpful, irrelevant ideas related to their own field. Worse, we may even think that they would be no good in social settings and would be unlikely to have any ideas of their own. It's all too easy to think that only the people within your own group know how to solve the problems faced by your own group. Maybe the problems are caused by your own group and you need an outsider to point it out.

People in other departments rarely fit the stereotypes and are normally intelligent and good at communicating with each other. Whatever they are like they will see the world from a different perspective and that is very valuable to you. You do not have to like or enjoy the company of other people to be able to appreciate their ideas. Use their special expertise and thank them for it.

We are not saying that you should invite people who are aggressive or critical or disruptive to your sessions. We would just like you to experiment with inviting people from other groupings into your brainstorming sessions. Not only will you be able to use their different mindsets but you will form a bonding between your groups which will help you in later work. An enjoyable event such as brainstorming can create a good understanding between groups or departments.

In many cases it is good to include people from all of the groups involved in the problems. This could include factory floor workers, sales people, marketing people, computer analysts and finance people. No group should be missed out unless there is a past history of them being particularly critical during the brainstorming sessions. Please remember that new people join companies regularly and should be invited along too.

New people mean new ideas

One of the good things about brainstorming is that you get to discuss your topics with interesting people, and if you run a good brainstorming session then lots of people will want to go to the next one. Being asked to join a session is a gesture that signifies that you can contribute good ideas and that you are tolerant of other people. In the same way, asking someone to join your session is a mark of respect from you to them and an invite to improve the organization.

NB. Please make sure that you give good training and information to the new people you invite or they will feel uncomfortable and will not contribute as well as they could. Their comfort and contribution is your responsibility. Be a good host.

We will now move on to look at techniques used to create a creative environment.

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