Brainstorming is more than just writing a few ideas on a whiteboard. Done well, with a facilitator, the ideas, plans, goals and changes that emerge will astound you. I have been using and refining this list of Techniques for Ideas and Goals with many different groups and projects over many years. Brainstorming is a fun activity and can be a fun way a team can bond, it gets their creative juices rolling and the members will feel like they have been heard and everyone gets a chance to get ideas out. Have fun with it, you never know what ideas will be hatched. Your staff, customers, business and your bottom line will all benefit.
# 1 Know what you want?
Knowing what you want, what you are trying to achieve and why you are doing it, will fast track any type of results you are trying to achieve. There is no point brainstorming something you don’t want or won’t put your heart into, so make sure what you are doing is aligned with your desires and goals. Ask yourself if you have the vision, the dream and are prepared to work to achieve these desires and goals.
# 2 Time & Place
Setting the atmosphere and getting the timing right is really conducive for brainstorming. Make sure you have enough time to focus completely on reaching an outcome and also that you won’t be interrupted by anyone who won’t support or have positive and helpful suggestions, you want your best team surrounding you at this point. Make sure you are in a place that is comfortable, consider even go away to reduce distractions if that will help and give you and your team freedom to explore ideas and not restrict creative juices to flow freely.
# 3 Use a Facilitator
If you want the best result then using a facilitator to co-ordinate the session can really move you forward faster getting you the best results, If you plan what you want first and have ideas of what you want to achieve, giving the facilitator direction on where you want to end up. Working together to plan the session prior to starting will give them a structure to work with, they will ask the questions that get you thinking, they will guide the discussion to get answers and make you think in a different way, they will keep your thought process on track and targeted which will give you a great result. If you would like Lorene Roberts to facilitate your next Brainstorming session send us an email
# 4 Be open-minded
Have an open-minded to every idea that is put to you, don’t dismiss anything initially, you can always dump those ideas that don’t fit in later, but having everything on the table will make it easier to group things into ideas that go together and those that don’t. It might sound funny, but the more things you think about, or the more lateral you allow your mind to go, the easier it is to expand ideas, so don’t eliminate anything especially initially when you are just going through ideas and brain dumping.
# 5 Brain dumping
Brain dumping is a wonderful way to get all the thoughts out of your mind. Have you ever had a great idea and thought about it in detail then come back the next day to record what you have thought about but can’t remember what it was you were thinking about? I have which is why it is so important to write it down in an exercise book or notebook and keep adding to it as you think of things. As you expand your thoughts, sometimes they won’t be logical or in the order others will understand, but by putting them down on paper you can trigger the thoughts that created them at a later time if needed.
# 6 Different ideas
Every idea is worth writing down no matter how silly or stupid you might think they are at the time. Let your creativity and imagination flow, go for quantity rather than quality, because by limiting what you are recording you might eliminate an idea that might be worth expanding and stops lineal thinking. To come up with ideas ask yourself different questions and ideas that get the brain ticking. Have a look at some of my starter questions
Will these ideas reveal a new pivot point? If so you have the potential to expand your brainstorming. These ideas can then lead into tangible, achievable ideas and steps that become your new amazing business plan.
# 7 Post-it note wall
Use a blank wall to organise your thoughts, grouping similar ideas together. Post-it notes are a cheap and effective tool that can be easily moved around on the wall, they can be moved up and down as your thoughts become more organised, they are easily ripped up and replaced by better ideas or expanded as you work through ideas and the steps needed to make your ideas a reality. If you have never worked a Post It wall have a look at Lorene’s Advanced Brainstorming Tips
# 8 Mind maps
A business mind map can be a great way to create a visual plan of what you are trying to achieve. Draw the post-it note wall onto a big sheet of paper using different colour pens and texta’s for the different areas. This map can be folded up or left up on the wall keeping it for a later date to brainstorm further and to go even deeper into ideas. If you keep it on the wall, the different colours will bring your eye to it and you will keep each of the areas top of mind and you may even keep adding to it in-between times.
# 9 Others can help
Ask for help from trusted knowledgeable friends to help you at your brainstorming session, once you have established an idea and you are ready to expand it out thoroughly why not ask your target market and any experts you know from the field to also help, listen to their responses as they will give you great ideas on how to proceed, you will also have to consider or maybe even filter out any negativity that arises too. You will get gold from these people and amazing insights which will fast track your results.
# 10 Research what others are doing
- Visit others doing what you want to do. Look at what they are doing right and what they need to improve write these ideas down on your list. Ask yourself what are the best in the industry doing?
- Go to trade shows and get ideas about how others are doing things.
- Research your competitors websites, get ideas from what others are doing
- What advertisements are happening in the industry you are researching?
- Google everything, including what’s happening in other countries, it is amazing what you find
# 11 Your biggest competitors
Who is the biggest and best in your industry that you would love to emulate. What ideas can you get from what they are doing? What makes them the best and can you do this too or even better? Ask yourself how you are going to be different to the norm and what you are going to do differently.
# 12 Mentors and a coach
Surround yourself with a great team, a positive team, a team that will inspire and build you up while keeping you focused and on track. Always have a mentor who you can ask how they would have handled the situation you are in. You may even have a few mentors which you can ask different questions to or bounce ideas off. They may even point you in the direction of a great coach to use. Over the life of your business you will use several different coaches especially as the business grows. A coach will keep you focused and going in the right direction, they will keep you accountable and help you break down the steps needed to be taken and the order which you need to do them. A good coach is an essential tool and their input and support can never be underestimated. Find a good one.
# 13 The customer experience
Pretend you are the customer and ask yourself how they would be feeling, you will get so much insight from turning your focus on what the customer feels and thinks. Brainstorm what they like and what is good, also brainstorm the opposite, what they hate, what they really want and what could be improved so they get exactly what they want. Employing a good Customer Journey Mapping team to explore what your customers experience can be invaluable as your business grows.
# 14 Brainstorm regularly
Make brainstorming a regular event, both as an individual and as a group led by a facilitator. Get the team together and sit around throwing around different ideas and suggestions, expand ideas, upgrade ideas and change things around to see what you get.
Done properly brainstorming ideas, goals and all the different aspects of business can produce original ideas well worth proceeding with and innovative solutions that can solve all sorts of problems. Brainstorming is also a great way of working out ideas that aren’t worth looking at, they can eliminate a lot of wasted time thinking about things that won’t work too. So never worry about brainstorming sessions that weren’t as productive or successful as you would have liked because the positive outcome is you haven’t wasted more time and money on these useless ideas.
Brainstorming is fun and help teams to bond. Using a facilitator improves results and helps groups reach ideas they could never imagined. All aspects of your business with benefit from implementing these 14 Techniques for Brainstorming Ideas and Goals. Need Help? Contact Lorene Roberts