We all know that the best way to collect thoughts and ideas is through a good old-fashioned brainstorming session. This process can generate a long list of potential opportunities for your product/business. Yet, it is a practice that many small businesses fail to recognise, or simply underestimate the potential of
Brainstorming involves three significant steps: preparation, performing, and evaluation.
In this phase, you have to specify the problem, and what is it that you really want to achieve. You will need to intelligently, and perhaps strategically, invite the right people to participate in the session. Decide where and when you will conduct the session. Sending out a rough “agenda” is also advisable to allow each to efficiently prepare themselves.
You are now in the process of specifying your objectives and goals while making sure that every team member is happy with the focus of the discussion. Be sure to clearly explain who each participant represents and the parameters of the subject matter. It is much better to allow your team to jot down their ideas as the session unfolds so things proceed swiftly. Begin the discussion, record everything, clarify ideas, ask as many questions as possible, suspend judgments, and enjoy seriously robust discussions. Take all the necessary time.
As the session draws down, the team needs to evaluate what has transpired during the discussion. Was there any genuine progress made? What is the potential for new ideas to emerge in the coming days? How will they be communicated to participants? Group the similar points together and select the most interesting questions and suggestions. Assign a few members of your team to further develop these ideas for later discussion by the group.
We have also gathered eight most effective brainstorming techniques to guide you through rationalising your ideas and improve your processes.
- Every participant is equal. Ask them to forget about his or her positions and job titles for the session.
- Do not judge suggestions or blatantly dismiss them, as this may stifle progress entirely. It is important to explore the alternatives for each idea.
- The more creative the ideas, the better the discussions.
- If a problem cannot be solved with a simple predictable flowchart of options, the team may need to use a more agile and creative approach.
- Encourage everyone to speak openly.
- No matter how brilliant or vague an idea is, every single suggestion must be evaluated on its own merits.
- Stay as positive and open-minded as possible throughout each stage. If you have convened the most appropriate participants then a solution will be found to the problem.
- Be sure that the agreed outcome is a productive balance of
- instinct and logic,
- customer expectation and company culture,
- investment and return.
What are your brainstorming practises? Share them with us.