you don't have to be a Creative to think like one.

It’s time for yet another loan promo and you’re stuck looking at a blank piece of paper. You’ve got nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zip. You could really use the collective input of multiple minds, riffing on anything that pops in their heads, all focused on a single subject.

You need a brainstorming session.

But everyone else around the office seems to be an accountant, and they aren’t exactly paid to try new approaches in their line of work. How can you brainstorm with your co-workers if they aren’t “Creatives”?

By realizing that you don’t have to be a Creative to think like one. Brainstorming is a group activity for almost everyone when you approach it the right way.

So go ask for their help. You might be surprised how many accountants would love to take a break from their usual work. Gather as many volunteers as you can, and remember to share these four guidelines at the beginning of the session in order to help put everyone at ease:

1. No judgements.

Criticism is not allowed. No sniggers or snide comments, no laughing at someone’s idea (unless the idea is meant to be funny). Comments are only allowed if they extend or add to the idea.

2. Focus on quantity.

Your focus should be to get as many ideas flowing as possible, helping participants get over their shyness or reluctance to share, and creating a creative atmosphere. The greater the number of ideas generated, the greater chance of developing something unusual and unexpected.

3. Every idea counts.

No idea is out of bounds, and unusual ideas are even better. Make no assumptions and try new perspectives.

4. Combos can count even more.

Good ideas are sometimes even better when combined. Be sure to write them down where everyone can see.

Got it? Good. Now give them the parameters of the problem and keep them talking while you take notes on the white board.

Of course, every once in a while the traditional group ideation process can grow stale or simply not work if there are too many people reluctant to share their ideas out loud. That’s when it may help to try a new approach to brainstorming.

Here are a few brainstorming approaches we’ve had success with:

1. Passing notes.
Each person writes down one idea then passes it to the next person, who adds their thoughts. The process continues until everyone get their original paper back, at which time the paper is read to the group. An option to this is to have one person swap the ideas randomly.

2. Idea cloud.
This process starts with defining one topic, then having each person list as many related ideas/words as they can come up with individually. All those ideas are then merged into one large idea cloud to see what new associations can be made by the group.

3. Questions first.
When the participants are having troubles coming up with solutions, try brainstorming the questions. Then prioritize the questions in order to find a solution.

Have fun and let us know how it goes! Of course, if you have developed other ways to brainstorm, we’d love to hear about them in the comments below.