IdeationIt is the process of coming up with business ideas and concepts, it is critical to the success of your business; however, brainstorming is one way to do it. In a perfect world, a group of highly motivated people can sit back and bounce their ideas off each other until a brilliant plan is revealed. In the real world, brainstorming sessions they often fall back into disagreements and doubts. Or worse, no one offers ideas and the group makes no decisions.
How to successfully run a Brainstorming session
It takes some preparation to run an effective brainstorming session where collaboration and teamwork result in great ideas. Follow these tips:
1. Have an end goal in mind objective .
You must have a specific reason for meeting and be able to clarify that to anyone participating in the session. If you want to brainstorm a business idea or a new direction for the company, this can be a much higher task that requires multiple meetings. If you are looking to improve your business in any way, be specific in how you want to do it. For example, the brainstorming of how to “increase sales” is too broad and vague. Brainstorming how to “increase sales in December without adjusting our marketing budget” is much more specific and increases the chances that you will receive viable ideas.
2. Prepare to brainstorm in advance.
Some people can fly out of the seat of their pants when it comes to brainstorming. Some of the best ideas will come organically, in unexpected bursts or sudden moments of clarity. Others will need time and intellectual power to develop. Schedule the meeting and set the agenda at least one week before the session. Tell people exactly what you will be discussing, and ask them to come prepared to share ideas and research they have done.
3. Establish rules.
By design, brainstorming sessions are meant to flow freely without much structure. However, basic rules can help prevent you from losing focus. Some rules for living:
- People should speak one at a time. Without talking about each other, and without side conversations.
- Give everyone the opportunity to share their comments. One or two people cannot dominate the discussion.
- Encourage unusual ideas. Even outrageous ones, when tight, can lead to great ideas.
- Accept all questions. There is no silly question.
4. Come up with an investigation strategy.
A great way to ensure that an idea is fruitful is to create a vetting process. Let people ask questions that analyze the feasibility and value of the idea. For example:
- What problem does this solve?
- Are there examples of other people doing it successfully?
- Can we compete with those who already do?
- Can it be executed in the scheduled time?
- Can it be executed within the allocated budget?
- What resources do we need for this idea?
- Is this idea risky? If so, will the risk be worth the reward?
5. Include variable perspectives.
There is no question that your team can brainstorm and be very successful. However, if your brainstorming sessions are dull, you may need to shake things up a bit. For example, invite someone from customer service to your marketing meeting. When introducing new products or business ideas, inviting a customer, supplier, or partner can offer great insight. Even friends or family members can offer ideas, concerns, or comments from a regular consumer perspective that your group may never have considered.
6. Stay focused.
When ideas fly, people can quickly go off on a tangent. If the conversation drifts, take the group back to the reason for their meeting. Say: »I am impressed by all these ideas, but today, let’s focus on the task at hand. How do we increase sales this month with the budget we have already set? “
Means of Ideation
If you feel like you’ve got the process down, but aren’t sure how to get ideas flowing, here are three popular brainstorming techniques:
A mind map gives you a way to get all your ideas out of your head and onto paper. All you need is a large sheet of paper or a white board and several colored pens or markers. In the center of the board / paper, draw a picture that represents the theme of your meeting. Then draw lines radiating from the central image to words, phrases, or pictures that represent your key concepts. From those words or pictures, draw lines to the subtopics. You will get a visual picture of everything the team is thinking about. From there, you can begin to shape and mold ideas. Mindmapping. com offers tons of information on the technique, or check out this free online MindMeister tool.
One of the simplest brainstorming tools, free writing allows you and other participants to put all your ideas down on paper before starting discussions. Set a timer for 10-20 minutes and place a piece of paper in the participants’ hands. Instruct them to write down everything they can think of on the subject. Tell everyone to write the entire time without stopping to review or edit what they have written. When the time is up, go around the room and ask everyone to share an idea. Keep doing this until you have something you can work with.
Examine the subject from six different angles by asking: “What is it like?” (Description); »What is it similar or different from?» (Comparison); »What does it make you think about?» (Association); »How is it made or what is it composed of?» (Analysis); and “How is it used or what can be done with it?” (App). Spend just 3-5 minutes on each side of the cube, then analyze the data for emerging patterns or unique elements and develop your idea based on them.
Ideation: The Idea Checklist
Before any entrepreneur sets out to develop a product or service and raise funds for it, they need to thoroughly analyze their idea.
- Does the idea solve other people’s problems (not just yours)?
- Are you passionate about the idea?
- Are you willing to spend the next 5-10 years of your life on this?
- Are others doing something similar with success?
- Are there too many competitors in the middle?
- Can I do something significantly different or better than others?
- Can I build the business with my own capital resources?
- Could you have a minimum viable product in 90 days or less?
- Are more than 75% of your potential customers interested in the product?
- Do I have experience and skills compatible with this business?
- Do I have a competitive advantage in how to get clients?
- If I don’t start, will someone else?
- Can I do something similar with court mentors who have been successful?
- Does the business have a high probability of success?
- Does the business risk / reward correspond to my own risk / reward?
- Does it help me fulfill my purpose?
If you have a few business ideas floating around in your head, take the checklist above and any further ideas you have include it if it matches the checklist.