Innovation is the key to growth. But innovation and creativity do not come easily. For those who have this in abundance, it seems very simple. For the rest, instead of one person thinking, if people join together and put forth their ideas, as in brainstorming, the results would be there, however incremental it may be. Once the process of brainstorming can be structured correctly, hundreds of ideas can be generated.
Brainstorming can be a physical get together, sessions that pull cross-functional partners together for an all-day workshop, or they can be done virtually with a virtual whiteboard and Webex.
To power a brainstorming session, the following points have to be taken into account.
- Everyone should be grounded in data, information and the hypotheses that you already have. Share the already existing information with everyone participating in the brainstorming. Everyone should have similar level of basic knowledge, and all can participate.
- Let everyone know the expectations and goals of the brainstorming session. Everyone should be able to articulate clearly what we want to accomplish in the specific brainstorm.
- Take the help of experts, trained professionals and outside thinkers. People are conformed or blinded by the rules and regulation of the discipline they come from. So they remain insulated. Bringing in outsiders helps to eliminate this conformity . They ask questions, and bring examples and precedents from other disciplines. They view a prospective consumer, customer or patient from a different angle.
- Have a facilitator to handle the proceedings. It is better if he is an outsider. He enables all team members to step back, participate and keep the ideating on track. The day or discussion should be explicitly choreographed to maximize results. Collect phones and iPads at the beginning of the sessions, to ensure maximum participation and no distraction.
- Physical exercises stimulates the brain. Make sure to plan exercises that get people up and moving. Use photos, ads, quotes, products (not always in the current category) and even toys to keep the hands occupied to stimulate them to think.
- Do a pre-planning session for each exercise, to come up with thought-starters, as it takes a while to get ideas up on the board.
- Document everything that is happening, capture everything and document, even if you cannot see right then how they might apply. Discussion, disagreement, questions, concerns and obstacles voiced are also to be documented as they may be the genesis of an idea.
- Keep asking why to get to the insight behind an idea. Challenging assumptions and probing on behaviors often leads to the underlying drivers, an important facet of any brainstorm.
- Acknowledge that different participants bring different strengths and leverage them. With any session comes a mix of background, experience, motivation and knowledge. Be sure you understand who will be in the room (or on the call) and think about how best to leverage her skills and background.
- Deliver a “finished” framework. Don’t let the end of the brainstorm be the end. It’s easy to walk away inspired and energized with no actionable next steps. Be sure to put together an organized summary of themes, key idea platforms and questions for the future. Don’t leave the session without alignment on what the team’s next steps are and who owns which initiative.
Brainstorming can work as an in-person session, a virtual session facilitated by new technologies that allow sharing of materials and whiteboards, and the process also works to ideate on your own. When structured correctly, a properly executed brainstorm can be immensely rewarding. Just be prepared to dive deep into the subject matter, engross yourself in the experience, and let the ideation begin.
All these aspects of brainstorming has been explained beautifully in Mr. R Sridhar’s book “Unlock the Real Power of Ideation”. He gives us 7 keys to unlock the valuable chest of Ideation’. If you use the seven keys intelligently, patiently in the right sequence, you will get everything you want from the chest.
Opening the chest and getting what you want is simple if you know how to use the keys in the right sequence. The 7 keys are:
- Master key – Define what you want ideas for
- Brains key- Choose the right people for the task
- The Design Key – It is a robust process for divergent and convergent thinking.
- The Wizard Key – This is a divergent key and helps you explore anything and everything.
- The Smart Key – This key helps you focus on what will be most useful or effective for you.
- The Moment of Truth Key – This key shows you how to make the right choice for action by committing money, resources and time.
- The action key – Making Things happen
To help bright managers think differently, and to make ideation sessions more productive, Sridhar provides a practical step-by-step process to “Unlock the Real Power Of Ideation.”
You can place orders for is book through the link below.
- Geetha Sridhar (Manager – Productivity & Quality Publishing)