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1. Dungeon Masters are running your brainstorms. “In an ideal world, the leader of a brainstorming group is inspiring, supportive, fair, and open-minded,” says Rigie. “They encourage participation by creating a safe, supportive environment for sharing new and different types of ideas and perspectives.”

“Unfortunately not every leader is so skillful, or puts the best interests of his or her group first,” adds Harmeyer. “For every well-trained and masterful Yoda-like leader, there is a Darth Vader lurking in the conference room next door.”

Rigie and Harmeyer explain that such “dark overlords of ideation” come in many different guises: some possess dominating personalities that rule and control their groups instead of inspiring and guiding them; others demonstrate an insatiable appetite for more and more ideas, and relentlessly pressure their group to generate vast quantities without end.

“We once knew a Dungeon Master who would squash creativity in every brainstorming session,” says Rigie. “At the start of the meeting, he would assert, You know how they say there’s no such thing as a bad idea? Well, that’s not true. There are bad ideas. Ideas so bad they should never be spoken out loud. …Okay, so what have we got? Needless to say, few participants had the courage to utter even one risky, unconventional, and potentially innovative idea.”

2. The specter of negativity and judgment looms in air. That’s a dumb idea! We tried something like that before—it didn’t work! The boss will fire us for even suggesting a wild idea like that! Sound familiar? That’s the sound of fledgling ideas being massacred.

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