When it comes to brainstorming sessions, burnt coffee and an old conference table can really dampen enthusiasm. Memories of previous meetings in the room may discourage employees from putting forth creative proposals. To liven things up, DEI, a Cincinnati-area architectural and construction company, runs special events to generate sales ideas.

For one session, which was not mandatory, vice-president Cynthia Grow held a wine tasting. She says that the event drew employees to the meeting and helped them relax before getting down to the business of figuring out how to increase sales at the $31.8-million company. Grow also asks employees to prepare in creative ways: Before the wine tasting, they had to read a trade magazine from another industry and extrapolate ideas for a current DEI project.

Copyright 1998 G+J USA Publishing