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For most of us, the arrival of Halloween evokes childhood memories of trick-or-treating, jack-o’-lanterns, ghosts, goblins, witches, black cats—and staying up late to watch horror movies like Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street.

Although the spooky traditions of “All Hallow’s Eve” aren’t widely celebrated in the business world, Mitchell Rigie and Keith Harmeyer, brainstorming experts and partners at SmartStorming LLC, point out that those traditions can provide us with interesting metaphors and analogies for some of the challenges organizations often face when trying to generate new ideas and drive innovation.

“In a world where innovation is an essential ingredient for business success, the ability to freely and consistently generate fresh, new thinking is crucial,” says Rigie, coauthor along with Harmeyer of SmartStorming: The Game-Changing Process for Generating Bigger, Better Ideas.

“Ideas are the lifeblood of business,” adds Harmeyer. “Without them, you have nothing. So it’s important to eliminate any impediments to effective idea generation swiftly and handily.”

Here are five warning signs Rigie and Harmeyer offer that suggest entity influences might be negatively affecting your organization’s best thinking and creative problem-solving abilities—and what to do about it.

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