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Why Your Brainstorms Suck

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If everyone in a brainstorm session thinks the way you do, you’re in trouble.

You’re in trouble of being in the most boring, uninventive, average, and lukewarm idea rut on the planet because convergent thinking will deadlock you into something that’s already been done.

You’ll walk out with nothing spectacular because divergent thinking is the only way outside of the box. You need opinions, beliefs, viewpoints, histories, and ideas that don’t all come from the same place.

What gets in the way of that?

A room full of people:

  • Too afraid to look stupid
  • Too afraid to be shut down
  • Too afraid to raise their hand
  • Too afraid to be judged
  • Too afraid to make a mistake


You need to lead from the top to turn things around.

  1. Create the psychological safety that everyone needs to be creative and use their imagination by making the volume of ideas the goal vs. the quality of the ideas. The point is to get as many ideas on the whiteboard as possible. Not 10, not 20, but 100. Doesn’t matter if they suck. Doesn’t matter if they sound insane. Doesn’t matter at all. Just get them up there. Let everyone know no idea is too nutty or too shitty. It all counts.
  2. Keep evaluation and assessment out of it. Before any critics dive into the feasibility or practicality of an idea, stop them. A good brainstorm doesn’t put every seed under a microscope. It’s all about expansion, curiosity, and imagination, not dollars, nickels, and cents. If someone comes up with an idea, say, “YES, AND!” and keep going to the next idea and the next idea and the next idea. You can bring priorities and values back into the room to assess alignment later.
  3. Make the whole thing a game! How off-the-wall can it get? How silly can it get? How outlandish or out-there or crazy can it get? Show everyone how it’s done and just go for it. Pitch the most bogus ideas knowing you might never do 99 of 100 of them, but the PATH to getting to a golden one is paved with a ton of throwaways. The cutting room floor should be FULL by the end of it.


The point is to explore as much territory as possible, not have everyone walking behind you in a straight line too afraid to step out or step on someone’s toes or step somewhere unknown.

That’ll get you nowhere fast.

Pooja Dang is a Women’s Executive Leadership Coach based in the San Francisco Bay Area, serving clients globally at companies such as Google, GoPro, Dropbox, and more. With over 15 years of experience in coaching, advising, and propelling women towards rapid career advancement and promotion, she specializes in high-impact workshops and dynamic 1:1 coaching, delivering breakthrough outcomes and accelerated change. Pooja has a proven track record of coaching women into the C-suite and is a trusted expert in growing executive presence, expanding influence, high-stakes negotiations, and leadership development. Using proven scientific strategies, transformative behavior tools, and a no-BS approach, Pooja is on a mission to empower more women to live confidently at the top of their game. Book your free consultation today. #ExecutiveCoach #LeadershipDevelopment #WomenInLeadership #BehaviorChange #CsuiteCoaching


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