Carnegie Coach

Team Member Contribution in Brainstorming Sessions

by robertr

April 9th, 2013

Dear Carnegie Coach,

I’m having trouble getting all of my team members to contribute during brainstorming sessions.  I realize that some of the quietest people have some of the best ideas, but I’m struggling to get them to step up and contribute.  Do you have any suggestions on what I could do to encourage everyone to get involved?


Dear Joe

Increasing levels of participation in brainstorming sessions, or idea sessions, is a difficult task.  Not everyone in the room feels confident enough to share their ideas with others.  You will need to first make sure that you build an environment of trust before you can expect to get the most out of all of your team members.  Here are a few ways you can build trust and allow ideas to bubble up within your team.

  • Have participants write before they contribute – Some people prefer to write or prepare rather than rattle an idea off the top of their head.  By encouraging writing it will help organize and maximize participation.
  • Do not make judgments – Accept all brainstorming ideas, it will ensure that everyone feels comfortable participating.
  • Remain neutral – Remember that even if an idea is good don’t say so because that is a judgment and will affect the responses and idea process.
  • Urge participants to piggy back or build on ideas – Make sure that everyone knows that it is okay to expand on others ideas.  This will bring different points of view into play.
  • Keep the sessions short – Try and keep the session to 20-30 minutes.  This will make sure that everyone stays focused and fresh.

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