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Instruct participants to silently cast their votes by placing colored dots next to each of the ideas they feel most successfully address the challenge. You can use other methods, such as a secret ballot (provide each participant with a numbered list of the ideas, ask them to circle the numbers of the ideas they think best address the challenge); show of hands (majority wins); Yes/No or Green/Red voting cards, etc.

“If the boss is participating in the voting process, politely ask him or her to kindly postpone voting until everyone else has finished,” advises Rigie. “This will help minimize the chance of his or her opinion swaying the group.”

Invite a “Dream Team” vs. “The Usual Suspects”—When planning your next brainstorm, why not invite your dream team? This group would be made up of knowledgeable individuals who possess a collaborative, can-do attitude—even if they are typically far removed from the project at hand.

“Let the usual suspects, the mixed bag of colleagues or teammates you usually invite by default, sit the session out,” says Harmeyer. “Shaking things up can have a dramatic impact on a group’s ability to collaborate freely, share, discuss, and build upon one another’s ideas. This is how innovative solutions are born.”

“A brainstorm is only as good as a) the people in the room and b) the tactics you use to minimize bullying and self-interest, stimulate creativity, and bring out the best ideas in everyone,” says Rigie. “Don’t make these decisions lightly. Invite the right people to the session and manage—or better still, politely forget—the idea killers. The solutions that emerge will astonish you.”

For more information, visit www.SmartStorming.com.

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