Evaluation and judgement

Most of us are very practiced at evaluation. We do it often without thinking.
When brainstorming, it is important to keep the flow going. To keep an open mind to all possibilities, no matter how off-the-wall. To build upon each idea with a spirit of “why not?”; without judgement. Premature evaluation is the fastest killer of the creative flow.

Ideas cannot happen if we are constantly judging everything as right or wrong, good or bad, acceptable or silly. Evaluation and judgement only come into play at the completely separate decision-making stage.


On a personal level – fear of looking silly, fear of failure, fear of not fitting in with group-think, fear of loosing face, fear of ridicule.

On an organisational level – fear of risks, fear of failure, fear of being too different from competitors, fear of shareholder reprisals, fear of doing something momentous.

Negative states of mind

Be mindful of your mental state before a brainstorming session. A mind full of distractions and worries is not a creative mind. Creativity requires and open-minded presence and willingness to engage with the process.

If your business is chaotic and constantly in fire-fighting mode, it will be hard to be creative. Use a neutral location away from the office.

Ego and power games

Some personalities are not suited to brainstorming sessions.

People who need to be right all the time, who are rigidly inflexible, who have completely lost their ability to play, who need to impose their will and way on everyone else; these people are best excluded from brainstorming sessions. If this is not possible, they will require a high level of direct management by the facilitator.

Other agendas and politics

Participants should avoid bringing other agendas into a brainstorming session. Political manoeuvring and factional fighting will cost you good will and good ideas.

It is worth clearly identifying out-of-scope political agendas at the start of the session so everyone knows when they stray off course. In come cases, it may be worth isolating warring groups into different sessions.