Cultivating New Ideas – Part II


Preparing for a Successful Brainstorming Session

A group of young professionals brainstorm.Last week we discussed the four main elements of a good brainstorming session. This week we’re going to look at how you can prepare for a productive session, ensuring that everyone involved is prepared to contribute in a healthy and creative way. In no time you’ll be able to apply the following brainstorming guidelines in order to cultivate new and profitable ideas:

Choose participants wisely

You want to invite individuals who will value your objectives and extend a genuine effort to participate. Consider those who are creative, thoughtful, and willing to offer all their ideas regardless of how ridiculous they may sound.

Prepare participants

Once you have invited participants you should ask them to come prepared. Share your objectives and ask them to brainstorm a little on their own so they come to the meeting with a few ideas. And when you invite your participants make sure you invite the right number. If you invite too many, not everyone will be able to participate; if you invite too few, you won’t be able to create the mind-meld necessary to generate fresh and innovative ideas.

Assign a recorder and determine a method of documentation

Before you start, assign someone to document all the ideas generated in your brainstorming session. Then determine a mode of documentation. If you use a whiteboard make sure someone records those ideas electronically so they can be saved and evaluated later. Or consider a large flip chart that can be carried from the meeting with you. Whatever you do, don’t trust your memory to preserve all the wild and crazy ideas your group produces.

Create objectives

Without an objective you’ll be brainstorming far from the beaten path. You need to have a problem you want to solve, a product you want to create, or a client you want to attract. Whatever it is, be sure you define your objectives clearly so that you can focus your brainstorming efforts on the task at hand.

Establish rules and abide by them

All brainstorming sessions should have rules. Consider using the four elements we discussed last week: focus on quantity instead of quality, don’t allow criticism, encourage far-fetched ideas, and improve ideas by combining them. Someone should also be responsible for directing and moderating the discussion.

Don’t get stuck

You want to encourage far-fetched ideas and crazy suggestions. But don’t be surprised if the group becomes intrigued by a strain of thought and pursues it for awhile. The group leader should be prepared to prevent participants from getting stuck in a brainstorming rut. Encourage the group to pursue other avenues in order to generate as many different ideas as possible.

Evaluate ideas later

And don’t be tempted to evaluate any of the ideas while brainstorming. Creating and evaluating are two different functions and shouldn’t be performed simultaneously. Brainstorming is your chance to create. Schedule a separate appointment to evaluate.Brainstorming is great way to cultivate new and profitable ideas that can help improve your small business. But in order for brainstorming to be effective you must be willing to make the necessary preparations and abide by a few idea-friendly rules. Once you do that you’ll be ready for a fun and productive brainstorming session.

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