By Julie Ray, Account Executive
When it comes to problem solving, planning and coming up with the next big idea or invention, most companies utilize brainstorming sessions with key employees. Each week, meetings are held to solve problems and plan for accounts at Gragg Advertising. I am sure most companies operate in a similar fashion. This structure has existed for many years and has great validity in the fact that teams (historically) have come up with the best ideas. Existing within these meetings are the following personality types.
- The Meek – quiet, timid, distracted, computer user
- The Controller – controls the conversation, we all have one of these
- The Idea Crusher – could be the boss, IT providing a reality check, or someone unwilling to put in the effort
- The Facilitator – the person who probably called the meeting, keeps things moving when they get bogged down
Due to these polarizing personality types, meetings tend to be dominated by a select few while others just vanish. This leads to meetings loosing focus and a failure of bringing any new ideas to the table. About six months ago, I came across an article that focused on the ways to become a better brainstorming company. This style, known as “brainsteering,” fosters individual participation from each attendee. From that technique I chose five steps that I thought would be the most helpful and productive.
- Shoot for Quantity
- Try to gain as many ideas as possible. Think “no idea is a bad idea”.
- Bring people into the conversation that are experts in the areas you need help in. Don’t select people based solely on their rank or position.
- Instead of having one fluid conversion that could potentially last for hours and end up nowhere, divide into groups of three or five. There is a science behind selecting an odd number of people.
- Provide one question to each group and have the group come up with as many solutions as possible within a time frame. The most important take-away from the article was to not allow other ideas to come up during these highly focused sub-group conversations. At the end of the time, give each sub-group a few more minutes to narrow down their list to include the TOP ideas that came out of their “power session”.
- No idea that comes up in your brainstorming session can immediately be put into place; however, the plan to implement can and should be done promptly. From this activity, many ideas will be generated. The best way to narrow down the list is to look at the practicality and execution time of each idea/solution.
By utilizing this exercise, people will feel involved in the success of solving a problem or helping the company. Whether or not their idea was chosen, they contributed to the conversation.
In conclusion, don’t be a brainstorming dummy. Don’t think that anything should ever continue being done the way it was before. This will only result in generating the same solutions and practices. In the end, this will only help in overall company growth and involvement, which is a win-win!