How To Host An Effective Brainstorm
Compelling leaders know how to utilize the strengths of the team members around them. Their unique perspectives can truly add value to your organization and help find solutions to some of the toughest problems facing the company. But how does one tap into all of that potential? At the core of this methodology is an effective brainstorm.
Running an effective brainstorm can give key players on your team a platform for their opinions to be heard, and provide an invaluable opportunity for leadership to harness their talents.
Here’s how to get one started for your business:
Running An Effective Brainstorm
1. Define The Problem
The first step to running an effective brainstorm is to define the problem. You are calling a meeting of the minds, and in order to keep everyone on track, there needs to be a goal for everyone to work towards. The task at hand should be clearly and concisely communicated to the team.
Make sure your participants are also briefed on the guidelines they are expected to adhere to. This means any time constraints, budget limitations, and other boundaries are known to the group from the very beginning so that they can shape the direction of the discussion.
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2. Provide Context
After defining the problem and the limitations your team needs to work with, it’s time to provide context. Not everyone at the table may know the full extent of the issue or the background as to how it came about. In order to receive knowledgeable answers, you must provide adequate context.
For example, let’s say the problem is that your business needs to increase sales by 5% by Q2. The context could be that you have seen declining sales over the last two quarters regarding two key demographics ever since a competitor launched a similarly-positioned product.
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3. Set The Agenda
After you’ve given your team a rundown of your needs and expectations, you need to set the agenda. Remember, structure is what keeps brainstorming sessions from breaking apart. Let the participants know how long the brainstorm will last, and how you plan on running the session so that everyone is on the same page.
One successful tactic is to open the meeting up to a Q&A segment. Allow your team to take turns asking you questions surrounding the issue. Giving them an opportunity for clarification will better help them understand the problem and guide the way they craft their ideas.
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4. Divergence and Convergence
Follow the Q&A up with a period of divergence – ask each person to write down their individual ideas down and submit them to be read in front of the team anonymously. This can alleviate the fear of speaking up and ensures everyone’s voice gets heard. After reading the new ideas out loud, put them up on the board so that they’re visible to the team for the remainder of the brainstorm.
This is when the convergence portion of the equation comes into play. Have each person come up and vote for the top three ideas they see on the board. Pretty soon, you’ll start to see some favorites emerge as you gain the input of those in the room. Take the top ideas and group them into themes based on how similar they are to one another.
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Once the brainstorm is adjourned, explain to the participants what your next steps will be, and when they should expect to see a finalized plan of action. You should now have a refined list of solutions at your disposal.
That’s when the real work begins. Put together a new group to further vet these ideas and take a look at them in more detail. For this part, lean on your upper leadership to weigh on what the rest of the organization has come up with. After deliberation, decide on which option you will move forward with.
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