At a luncheon yesterday, I was asked to substitute for the guest speaker. I had five minutes. My topic: how to improve every brainstorm. I scribbled some thoughts on a wine-stained napkin. When I warmed-up my voice in the men’s room, I realized my nine points were simply two points.
Dear colleagues, if you want to improve every brainstorm, you need to merely do these two things.
1. Prepare. Think about how to use the brainstorm time most wisely, such as …
- Defining the structure up front. The most essential points: 1) What’s the objective? 2) What issues are you facing? 3) What quality research do you have? 4) What insights about the audience mindset have you learnt?
- Understanding the audience. You really are wasting time if you have shallow information about the target audience, such as demographics. Know the mindset, their perceptions and attitudes, and any existing knowledge about the product or service.
- Knowing the tangents. For a variety of reasons (not all good ones), the time spent brainstorming is shrinking. Use valuable time wisely by limiting conversations which go off tangents. Deal with these potential issues in advance. Or, be ruthless in parking issues for discussion at a later time.
- Inviting the right people with the right mindset. A brainstorm is not a cattle call. Particularly with less time, brainstorms should involve people who are prolific idea generators, people who understand the target audience and those with open minds.
- Keeping negativity at bay. Whether it’s colleagues or supervisors, or you yourself, keep negativity at bay until all ideas are given the chance to be researched or improved.
- Setting the right environment. You don’t need a large, state-of-the-art facility to be creative. A basic room with lots of wall space and creative tools is all that’s needed to inspire the participants. If you’re working online, how can you share notes with digital media?
2. Schedule the right amount of time. An hour should be minimum.
Artwork: ‘Free Your Mind’ by Catrin Welz-Stein.