What do you do when you have to solve a problem or you need a killer new idea for your business? Many business owners spend thousands of dollars on consultants when the perfect solution is right in front of them tucked away in one of their employee’s brain. How can you access your employees’ great ideas? Why not try a brainstorming session? Here are some techniques that will help you hold a brainstorming session that is actually effective:
Don’t allow criticism.
The fear of criticism stifles creativity and makes people unwilling to suggest unconventional ideas, which is the whole point of the exercise. Focus on quantity instead of quality. Make it a team goal to come up with 75 new ideas.
Invite the right people.
Ideally, you would want to have between four and eight people at your brainstorming meeting. When the group gets too big, people start to get intimidated. Include a mix of people from different levels and departments. You want to invite people who are willing to think big.
Make it a comfortable experience.
The space that you are working in matters. Try to find a different room than the one that you use for your regular meetings. Make sure that the chairs are comfortable and that people have room to walk around. Select a time for the meeting when your employees won’t be too distracted by other tasks, and don’t forget to provide food and coffee.
Have an official facilitator.
You need someone to keep everyone on track and make sure that there is no judgment or criticism of ideas. It is best if the facilitator is someone other than the manager so that the team members don’t become intimidated.
Plan next steps.
Clearly communicate what the next steps will be. After investing their time and energy into this meeting, it will annoy your employees if all their ideas lead to nothing.
When handled properly, brainstorming meetings can be an effective team building experience. It can get people talking in the lunch room, which is where the best ideas will come from anyway. Your real goal as a business owner is to create a culture of brainstorming at your company. If your employees are always thinking and are motivated to develop and share their ideas, it will take your business to some amazing (and interesting) places.
Written by Karen Bivand
Featured image via shutterstock.com