Preparing for a Brainstorming Session: Part 2: Who to Invite

In Part 1 of this topic, Preparing for a Brainstorming Session, I discussed the resources you should have in place to optimize the potential of your brainstorming session. In Part 2, I discuss who to invite.

A lot of politics can go into who gets put on the “dream team” that’s going to be responsible for the next great innovation at your company. While that can’t always be avoided, here are some guidelines that might help you justify why certain people need to be in the room.


There are really only two rules you need to follow here:

  1. There should never be more than 5-7 people in a single brainstorming session. I have found this to be the ideal number of people to comfortably sit around a single conference table. You can’t be that productive when people are writing on their laps as they sit in a circle, or are craning around to see all the visuals. Also, with a group this size, it’s harder for people to get left out of the process.
  2. Each of these 5-7 people should represent or be a key stakeholder in the final product. As a rule, at least one of these people is an administrator or team leader that understands the company’s “big picture” as it relates to this project/scenario. One or two people should be selected from each of the groups that will be using the final product; this can be especially helpful if these people were using the “old way” of doing things and can contribute their thoughts on what they did and did not like about that way. If this system will generate reports, make sure that one of the people that needs those reports is here; the back-and-forth between the people entering the data and what they know “on the ground” can be useful in informing what’s possible on the reporting side.

In the next post, I’ll focus on the third component of a productive brainstorming session: mindset. This will help you decide what you want to say in your invitations.

Barbara Olsafsky

Owner and Data Wrangler/Strategist

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