We live in an era that embraces collaboration and diverse perspectives. Effective brainstorm sessions are therefore more relevant now than they’ve ever been before. The idea of company brainstorms has been around since after World War Two, but the focus now is on how to best harness their power to serve the short and long-term needs of modern businesses. Here are six ways you can do so:
Make A Statement
The first step should be to determine a clear problem that the brainstorming session will address. This could take the form of a question, such as “How can we expand our delivery routes in the North West?” It’s then essential to set boundaries for possible solutions. For example, solutions may need to be implemented within three months. The tighter the boundaries set, the greater the chances of finding appropriate solutions.
Clarify The Statement
Next, compile any additional information participants will need to know. If possible, send the details ahead of time to elicit more productive responses during the session. Additionally, it’s important to establish definitions of key terms and ideas so everyone works from the same page. Every pertinent word in the initial statement should be expanded on to ensure all participants share a common understanding of the problem to be solved. The process of unpacking this information is itself a catalyst for effective brainstorming.
Choose The Right Facilitator
The facilitator can make or break a brainstorm. They should be selected based on their ability to keep the session on track and be unbiased. Their central role is to make sure everyone participates and that no one dominates the discussion. Importantly, the person selected should be approachable. An imposing senior manager, for example, could prevent the free flow of thoughts.
Get The Right Group Dynamic
The session should include people in the company who understand the problem based on their relevant exposure and/or expertise. However, one or two participants from another area of the business could add unique insights that could potentially take the session to a more productive level. Where possible, invite a diverse mix of participants from varying cultures, backgrounds and age groups. Some of the best ideas are generated when a group is made up of individuals with different perspectives on the same problem.
Use Technology To Your Benefit
Technology has touched every facet of the business world and can positively impact a brainstorm session. A great example of this is the traditional flip chart, which has now undergone a remarkable transformation, courtesy of Samsung. The Samsung FL!P can add that extra sense of connectedness, vital to any brainstorm. It’s a brilliant, ultra-high definition LCD mobile display stand, with a super responsive stylus for writing and drawing, making it feel like you’re using a marker on a board. Better still, the FL!P is web-connected, making fully synchronised collaboration possible in meetings. Those with a laptop, tablet or smartphone can mirror their screens to share content. Ideas from the brainstorm can also be recapped and shared instantly, using built-in email, distributed over your network or saved to USB storage.
Take A Shower
Ideally, a brainstorm should not last more than an hour. At this point, attention spans waiver and the quality of suggestions weaken. Once the session is complete, the list of shortlisted ideas should be shared. Quite often, it’s the hours or days after the brainstorm that inspires the best thinking. After reading a recap of the session, the magical Eureka moment can happen in the unlikeliest of places, like the shower or while driving home from work.
“The best business solutions are often unearthed in conditions conducive to lateral thinking and the sharing of insights. When brainstorm sessions are organised, collaborative and the initial results are easily shared, the ideas arrive like a bolt of lightning from the skies. That’s when the power of brainstorming makes an impact on the bottom line”, says Reginald Nxumalo, Director of Consumer Electronics, Samsung South Africa