Have you led creative brainstorms at work? Was it an unnecessarily long ordeal and yielded poor results? Unfortunately, this can be a common occurrence. Especially if you have a smaller department or team, creative brainstorms can be stressful if only one person is coming up with ideas and the other members just go along.

There are some tricks and exercises you can do to host a productive creative brainstorm.


Remember That Everyone is a Creative

According to ThinkerToys, a study of creatives vs. non-creatives, the only difference researchers could find was the creatives thought they were creatives. Each member of the team is a creative! If you are brainstorming with team members who don’t have “marketing” in their title remind them that they are creative when coming up with ideas and solutions in their department.


Getting Every Member to Share

Almost every brainstorm have attendees who don’t share an idea. However, when you break down that barrier, that’s when awesome ideas come forward! Here are some ideas to get each participant to share an idea.

  1. Going around the room and having everyone share an idea
    1. Pro – everyone shares an idea
    2. Con – this might make participants uncomfortable so make sure you, the host, affirm everyone’s idea

Example: “Um, my idea is silly. Maybe a social media post?”

Awesome! A social post can definitely contribute to this marketing campaign.


  1. At the beginning of the brainstorm, have everyone write down a reason they don’t feel like sharing an idea and then talk about why don’t have to have to worry.
    1. Pro – encourages members of the brainstorm to open up
    2. Con – again, this might make some participants uncomfortable so encourage everyone to share, but don’t force it

Example: “I’m worried my idea will seem too small.”

A small idea could turn into something big that the whole team can contribute to.


Generating Ideas

Generating ideas can be the most challenging part of a brainstorm. Depending on the subject, it can seem impossible to come up with a great idea. If this is a scheduled brainstorm, you hope every member will come with ideas. Unfortunately, we know this isn’t always true. Here are some tips for encouraging every member of the brainstorm to come up with ideas.


  1. Idea Quota – Have each member of the brainstorm come up with 5 ideas in 2 minutes.
    1. Pro – for individuals who already had ideas, this will be a snap
    2. Con- individuals who haven’t come prepared with ideas, this will be difficult

Example: Everyone please write down 5 ideas for this project in 2 minutes.


  1. Problem First, then Solution – Think of the challenge or problem you are trying to solve – write it down. Challenge: Need to promote this product. Then write down ideas of solving that problem.
    1. Pro – Encourages a different way of thinking about an idea
    2. Con – Can be challenging the first time

Example: We need to promote this new product. We can do this through social media posts and an email marketing campaign.


Putting Creative Ideas into Action

Don’t just gather awesome ideas and end the meeting. Now you need to organize the fun part; putting those creative ideas into action.

  • Choose one idea that has the most potential
  • Work as a team to create a plan to implement the idea
  • Delegate each step of the plan
  • Decide on deadlines
  • Agree on a backup idea or plan


The Goal of a Creative Brainstorm

The goal of a brainstorm is to come up with ideas for a client or project. Hosting a creative brainstorm doesn’t have to be a pain! Make it as fun as you can by bringing in visuals or examples of what the team is accomplishing. Not all creative brainstorms are going to be a screaming success. It’s okay to take a break or come back to the drawing board.

After running through these exercises with your team a few times, hopefully your brainstorm became a fun, well-oiled process. Let the creative juices flow!
Let us know how your next brainstorm goes after using these tips or share some your own in the comments!