Innovation is more crucial to business success than it’s ever been. Everybody is looking for the next great idea that the competition hasn’t thought of yet. It’s not enough to innovate, businesses need to innovate faster, more efficiently and with greater success than their competitors. One of the most fundamental tools of innovation is the brainstorm.
Brainstorming can be a source of both inspiration and stress. It’s a great way of drawing out new ideas, exciting possibilities and collaboration. It can also cause anxiety, dread and frustration when the ideas won’t flow. In the worst-case scenario, the meeting ends without any great ideas and a frustrated and angry workforce. Which of these scenarios you can expect to see is going to depend largely on the quality of your preparation.
If you want to ensure your brainstorming sessions are successful, try breaking them out into three phases:
Phase 1: Solo Brainstorm
- In advance of the group brainstorm, give some time for the group to prepare individually. Planning too far in advance can lead to the sessions slipping from agendas or feel like added pressure, so don’t give too much time for this.
- Provide the group with as much information as possible on the expected outcome. A vague outline will lead to a vague outcome. If you’re able to provide a clear problem statement and a few examples of ideas, your team will find it much easier to get the creative juices flowing
- Give a clear goal for the amount of ideas you’re looking for. Three is a solid number. If people are able to think of more, great! The important thing is that everyone has a benchmark for achievement.
Phase 2: Group Brainstorm:
- Use your internal community platform to gather your ideas into a specific discussion. From there, you can group them by type
- Encourage the discussion of each idea among all the collaborators. This is a great chance to flesh out the proposals of each member of the group, and collect suggestions on how to improve them.
- Group similar suggestions together, see where they overlap and where they can be integrated with each other.
- Invite participants to vote on their favourite ideas, to help decide on the best way to proceed.
Phase 3: Final ideation
- Allow participants to read through the grouped ideas
- Ask them for more input and suggestions. See if the grouped ideas inspire more discussion and proposals.
The key is that two of the three phases focus on individual contributions. It gives everyone the opportunity to contribute ideas that could end up being the one thing that makes a huge difference to your bottom line.