Teaching Your Employees the Ultimate Brainstorm
Brainstorming is an important skill to spread throughout your business to generate new ideas for various parts of business operations. The important thing is to make each employee feel secure about being a part of the process. The reward is a continuous flow of new ideas and a business-wide perception that everyone’s opinion is valued.
You've Been Here Before
Did you ever take a class where your professor asked you for the characteristics of something or asked you what words come to mind when you thought of something, then wrote down everything a student said on the board? If so, then you’ve seen a form of brainstorming. Brainstorming can actually be quite a bit of fun. There are no wrong answers when you’re brainstorming. You can harness this same power to improve your product offerings or how your business operates. Just gather your employees together and have them start brainstorming.
Everyone Must Feel Secure
When brainstorming fails, it is usually because people fear they are being judged. Their insecurities about their thoughts prevent them from speaking their ideas out loud. There are a few ways you can make everyone feel secure. Start by explaining that there are no wrong answers during the brainstorming process. However, be prepared to follow that up with corresponding actions. Write down everything everyone says. When you enter the judgment phase, be sure not to ridicule any words or ideas, focusing instead on positives and consensus.
The Basics of Brainstorming
Basically, a brainstorming session in a work environment is usually done in one of two ways. If participation is high, you can just have all involved employees give out ideas when called upon. Encourage each of them to give you as many ideas as they can come up with during the session. Give constant, positive feedback when they give answers, regardless of quality. Encourage them to keep giving you more ideas. Make sure everyone is called on as much as possible.
Brainstorming works best when you get the widest range of inputs from people with the widest range of backgrounds. However, if they’re unfamiliar with the process, certain personalities will be content to allow others to keep giving ideas as long as the room doesn’t run out of ideas. For these, you may need to have a more structured system of eliciting ideas. You can go around your virtual room to have each person give one idea at a time. Go around as many times as you want. Many people will be intimidated by this method at first, but if your feedback is positive, they will usually become more comfortable with brainstorming. You may be able to return to open brainstorming sessions as everyone gets comfortable.
After a set time or a set number of ideas, you’re ready to narrow down your random ideas to the ones that make the most sense. Don’t do this yourself. Use group consensus. There are many forms of group consensus, so choose one that makes sense for you. One type is active tabulation. You can have each person say their favorite or even three favorite ideas from the list. Put a check under each idea for each vote and count up the ideas getting the most votes. Don’t comment on the ideas lacking votes, simply remove ideas with one or fewer votes. Then repeat the voting process and remove all but the two or three highest vote-getting ideas.
You’re all done. You have your list of ideas from a wide variety of creative inputs and perspectives, from which decisions can be made about how to use those ideas.
The Value of Brainstorming in Business
Businesses are usually started with a clear vision. That vision is put into a business plan. From that point on, executive decisions are made based on following the business model. But the same people are following the same plan day in and day out during the course of business. It is common for businesses run by even the best business minds to become stale without an infusion of new ideas. But you shouldn’t have to fire someone or promote someone just to keep your business ideas fresh. By teaching your executives and other employees how to brainstorm, you can come up with fresh ideas from their unique company and life experiences that can be applied to your business model to keep your business fresh and active in the marketplace. So whether you’re brainstorming about new ways of advertising products, new ways of managing employee shifts, or new products altogether, you’ll keep coming up with new ideas. The best part of it all is that your employees should all feel like they are important parts of the process, with valued input used for making each of these decisions, which is why this method is the ultimate brainstorm.
Discover our range of templates that create a brainstorming canvas that will put your brainstorming sessions into high gear.