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  • Writer's pictureKaylie Dugan

Here's a Great Way to Start a Brainstorming Session

Brainstorming sessions are a vital part of business team collaboration, and for good reason. They provide a space for team members to share their ideas, overcome challenges, and come up with creative solutions to problems. Whether you're a startup or a well-established company, implementing brainstorming sessions is essential for success in today's fast-paced business landscape. Learn a fun way to facilitate your own brainstorming session in this blog.

Brainstorming Session

Today I’m sharing one of my all-time favorite ways to start ideation. The tool is called Assisters & Resistors. It’s particularly lively and all types of companies and people are successful using it. (The endings of the two words in the title being different throw off my sense of balance, but I’ve learned to live with it.)

Set Up

Start by putting big pieces of paper on the wall: either large-format paper with two columns marked off or several easel pads for one column and several more for the other. The right-hand portion is labeled Assisters and the left Resisters. One good Recorder can handle both columns, or you can assign two people to the recording task.


Here’s the explanation to the brainstormers. In the first column, we’re going to list all the things that are moving our brand/team/organization into total domination. The other column is for things that are leading us toward annihilation. These can be things internally to us, our customers and competition, things happening in the category as a whole, the economy, or events in the country or the world. Anything that comes to mind is fine.

We’re going to call them out popcorn-style but go slowly enough so that the Recorder can get all the comments on the wall. And we’re looking for an unduplicated list, so please don't repeat what’s already up there, or even kissing cousins of an early item.


Keep getting comments, slowing down if necessary so the Recorder can keep up. When there’s the first energy lull, keep going by asking people to think of additional things. Then when the energy flags again, call time.

Hot Dot Voting

Give all participants two strips of colored dots [4-5 dots per strip]. Tell people they are voting for the items on the list they think are most important. The color of the dot doesn’t mean anything. They can express the intensity of their opinion by putting multiple dots on a single item, but no more than five Dots for any one item. Research shows that removing a Resister is often more effective than expanding an Assister.

Facilitator Follow-up

During a break, the Facilitator goes through both lists writing in the total number of Dots. In addition, s/he decides if each item is an internal or external issue. Finally, the Facilitator makes a list of the top vote-getters in each box of this matrix: Internal Assister, Internal Resister, External Assister, or External Resister.

Now as if by magic, you have an instant SWOT analysis.

Strength Internal Assister

Weakness Internal Resister

Opportunity External Assister

Threat External Resister

Then share the SWOT list with the team before the next break. They might just be amazed at their own brilliance. I know I always am.

Looking for more ideas for brainstorming sessions? Check out this Timed Game to Boost Group Energy.


Driven to Succeed is an award-winning global market research and consulting firm that compliments data (the “what”) with empathetic research and conversations (the “why”) to uncover actionable insights so mid-market companies and Fortune 500 brands can innovate and grow. Our team has walked a mile in your shoes with over 100 years of experience in Market Research, Marketing, and P&L Management for global iconic brands and startup companies across diverse B2B and B2C industries. Learn more at

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