Embracing Inclusive Ideation: Alternatives to the term Brainstorm for Collaborative Discussions

Inclusive Ideation: Redefining Collaborative Discussions for a Diverse World

Darryl Horn, Monday, 5 June 2023 • 3 min read

In today's diverse and inclusive society, it is vital to be conscious of the impact our language choices have on others. While the term "brainstorm" has long been used to describe collaborative idea generation sessions, concerns have been raised about its potential insensitivity towards individuals with neurological conditions or disabilities. In this article, we explore alternative terms that promote inclusivity and respect diverse perspectives during group discussions.

The Significance of Inclusive Language

Language plays a pivotal role in creating an inclusive and respectful environment. By considering our word choices carefully, we can demonstrate a commitment to inclusivity, ensuring that everyone feels valued and respected during collaborative ideation sessions.

Alternative Terms for Idea Generation

  1. Idea Generation: This straightforward term focuses on the core purpose of the activity – generating ideas. It emphasizes a collaborative approach to problem-solving and encourages participants to freely express their thoughts and suggestions.

  2. Thought Shower: Coined as an alternative to "brainstorm," this term captures the essence of a refreshing shower of ideas. It encourages participants to openly share their thoughts without judgment.

  3. Group Ideation: This term highlights the collective nature of the activity, emphasizing that the process involves the collaborative efforts of the entire group. It encourages diverse perspectives and fosters a sense of teamwork in generating innovative ideas.

  4. Idea Jam: Drawing inspiration from the world of music, this term evokes the idea of a jam session where participants contribute their unique ideas and build upon each other's suggestions. It promotes a creative and dynamic atmosphere conducive to ideation.

Benefits of Inclusive Terminology

  1. Fostering inclusivity: Alternative terms ensure that individuals with neurological conditions or disabilities feel included and respected, reducing potential discomfort or stigma associated with the term "brainstorm."

  2. Promoting diversity of thought: Inclusive language helps create a safe and welcoming environment for diverse voices, leading to a wider range of perspectives and ideas. Everyone can contribute without feeling excluded or misunderstood.

  3. Reflecting organisational values: Using inclusive language aligns with the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion that many organisations strive to uphold. It demonstrates a commitment to fostering an inclusive culture where every voice is valued.

As we progress towards a more inclusive society, it is crucial to be mindful of the language we use. While "brainstorm" has traditionally been the preferred term for collaborative ideation, considering alternative terms can enhance inclusivity, respect diverse perspectives, and create a more welcoming environment for all participants. Embracing inclusive language practices fosters an atmosphere of collaboration, innovation, and respect in all our collaborative endeavours.

Embracing Inclusive Ideation: Alternatives to the term Brainstorm for Collaborative Discussions
Photo by Hugo Rocha on Unsplash
#InclusiveIdeation #LanguageMatters #DiversePerspectives #CollaborativeThinking #RespectfulDiscussions
This article was first published on 5/6/23.

Article categories

About the author


Darryl is a Chartered CIPD Member, business leader and operational manager with 30 years experience in on-the-ground and strategic HR, specialising in Human Resources Management, Employment Law, Employee Relations and Learning & Development.


I have just renewed our membership for another year for HRdocbox. It's an extremely useful resource with a wide variety of documents and knowledge...
- Rachel Masing, ETM Group

I have been using the service now for around 6 months and it has been really useful in developing and updating polices and processes.
- Jamie Allan, Armstrong Craven

Excellent library of resources and templates which have made my job in my small business so much easier to manage HR for my employees...
- Emma Hunt

Great value and the site contains an extensive library of essential HR documents. I access the site probably once a week...
- Laura Alliss-Etty

HRDocBox is a great resource. It is incredibly good value, providing a large selection of HR guidance materials as well as...
- Emma Beauchamp