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The Six Superheroes of Brainstorming

April 6, 2017 Bradford Group Administrator

What types of people are in your brainstorming session?

In the workplace, people are familiar with common personalities such as the “overachiever” or the “workaholic,” but if you dive deep into the archetypes of people in a brainstorming session, you will identify a new league of characters.

As part of our journey to find “better ideas” for our PR clients, we brainstorm constantly. Now, we’ve taken a step back to highlight the way that each of these “brainstorming superheroes” serves a valuable purpose.


The Time Bomb

This humble hermit doesn’t typically contribute much to a brainstorming session. He sits pensively, staring into the distance. However, just before the meeting is up, this introvert becomes an extrovert and throws out such an out-of-the-box, creative or wacky idea that no one leaves the room doubting his overall contribution level.

Superpower: If left alone, the quiet brainstormers can surprise the entire team. This person isn’t a talk-thinkers, meaning he would rather stay still and silent, calculating the influx of information and taking his sweet time to process it into a nugget of an idea.


The Piggybacker

Remember college classes, where there were always teammates who “tweaked” your original idea or threw tiny ideas on top of it? Well, they matured and work with you now! For instance, if someone brainstorms an idea about a new event, the piggybacker will interrupt to share her idea for the name of the event. A piggybacker may not contribute an original launchpad idea, but she can contribute myriad small updates to existing thoughts posed by the team.

Superpower: Whether it seems like it or not, details help in brainstorming – not just to determine the general viability of an idea, but to provide smaller, associated ideas to which others can latch on and think about. Details catch inconsistencies, impossibilities or other opportunities within bigger ideas. Let the piggybacker do her thing, and watch your ideas get fleshed out in the middle of a brainstorm.


The Control Freak

If you’ve ever brainstormed with a “go-getter” personality, you’ve likely experienced a control freak. This individual can dominate the conversation, even if he isn’t officially leading the discussion. You may think that sounds negative, but a control freak is actually of the most unappreciated heroes in brainstorming!

Superpower: When left to his own devices, a control freak can help steer the ship to where he thinks it should go. He might need a little bit of “talking down” at times, but overall, if you trust his sense of direction, he can help direct the team to new areas of idea development (and help keep the team on track!).


The Honey Badger

Are you familiar with the viral phrase “honey badger don’t care?” Well, the idea of a carefree personality can apply to certain people in a brainstorm too. The honey badger revels in the creative freedom of a brainstorm and most likely has no desire to be realistic or practical. She just wants to secure the “big idea” at any and all cost, so she continues to throw out crazy ideas until people either run with a concept or begin questioning her sanity.

Superpower: In a brainstorm, even though people need details and realism, they also need wacky germs of ideas that plant the seeds for big discussion. A honey badger can be annoying at times, but she is a valuable asset for any team.


The Wet Blanket

This person is the “bizarro” form of the Honey Badger. In a brainstorm, he will go full “wet blanket” on the group, offering up negative or counteractive opinions that seem to bring the conversation down as a whole. To be clear, this can be problematic. But if his input is managed correctly or encouraged, he can become an asset.

Superpower: While the person who sticks to such a hard line of realism may seem counterproductive for a brainstorm, teams do need a hard edge to fully flesh out ideas. Fluffy, big thoughts can look wildly attractive, but brainstorming sessions need an individual that will ask insightful questions and pull the conversation back down to Earth.


The Copycat

Let’s get real, a copycat can be undeniably irritating. This person is just restating things that have already been spoken. She couldn’t possibly have a valuable place in a brainstorming session, where only unique ideas are expected, right?

Superpower: Restating ideas in a brainstorm might not seem helpful, but it actually can be — and for one main reason: agreement. It allows the team as a whole to vet that idea by way of discussion. Whereas brainstorming sessions can be competitive, this is almost an act of co-signing an idea. When a copycat restates an idea verbatim, others may recognize it as a lazy talking point, but a benefit of repetition is that good ideas will be more likely to stand out among the noise.

Bottom line: There will be people in your brainstorming sessions that are calming or challenging, quiet or loud, creative or (seemingly) uninspired. These people all have a place in the search for better ideas. Don’t count anyone out. It’s the collective hivemind of those different personalities that makes brainstorming so helpful in the first place.

That being said, don’t be a rambler. The rambler talks but never actually says anything.

What are your thoughts on the personalities of brainstorming? Sound off below!


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