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“Without big-picture planning, a sound process, active, well-trained leadership, and idea-stimulating techniques, productive sessions are virtually impossible to achieve,” says Harmeyer. “Efforts are expended in vain, time drags on, and participants stagger out of the session feeling like the walking dead.”

4. Toxic personalities are invited. Who you invite to your brainstorm can dramatically impact the quality and productivity of the session. Not everyone you might consider asking to attend is capable of being a team player. In fact, some may even sabotage the group’s efforts with fiendish attitudes and devilish behaviors. Here are a few of the potentially troublesome personality types Rigie and Harmeyer suggest you avoid inviting to your sessions.

Attention vampires—They always want to stand out and be the center of attention. They’ll suck the life out of the entire group.

Wet blankets—These pessimists see flaws in every idea voiced and dampen the enthusiasm level in every session they attend.

Dictators—They love every idea…as long as it’s theirs. These totalitarians believe they are the only ones with good taste. Everyone else’s contributions need to conform to theirs or risk being executed.

Obstructionists—To them, nothing is simple or easy. They overcomplicate conversations and procedures, and bring up extraneous facts or considerations that derail the flow of the group.

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