Brainstorming can be a great way to move your small business forward by inspiring creative ideas from your entire work team and acting on those ideas. However, brainstorming sessions often prove to be fruitless. Use these tips to make your company’s next brainstorming session an effective force that grows your business and increases your bottom-line profits.
Think Inside the Box
Brainstorming sessions often demand that participants think outside the box – but if you want your brainstorming sessions to produce specific, helpful ideas for solid plans for growing your business, you need to keep the session inside the box, too. A lot of brainstorming sessions fail because there isn’t any structure imposed on the meeting. Make your brainstorming sessions more effective by laying out some general boundaries that provide a basic focus for the meeting. Focusing your brainstorming sessions on a specific goal, such as how to increase sales of a certain product line, will help prevent the sessions from wasting time on unrelated directions, such as ideas for improving the selections in the vending machines in the break room.
Reward Creative Thinking and Good Ideas
Make your company brainstorming sessions more effective by motivating and incentivizing your employees to come up with good ideas. Have a reward system in place to show your appreciation for good, creative thinking. This can improve the output of your brainstorming sessions and generally foster creative thinking among your employees. For example, consider rewarding an employee who offers the best idea in a brainstorming session with a cash bonus or some paid time off.
Pick a Good Meeting Facilitator
Another key to making brainstorming sessions more productive is selecting a good meeting facilitator. A good brainstorming facilitator has good listening skills, the ability to help others express their thoughts, and who keeps the meeting basically on track without appearing overbearing or stifling participation.
Employees may be somewhat intimidated and more reluctant to speak up when the owner or president of the company is running the meeting. Selecting another member of your team to head and direct the meeting may be a better way to encourage full and open participation in the session.
Have a Solid Followup Plan
Many brainstorming sessions that produce excellent ideas still ultimately fail to produce any positive effects because nobody ever follows up on the great ideas produced in the meeting. Make brainstorming sessions fruitful by having a definite plan for following up on the ideas gleaned from the meeting. Either at the end of the meeting or shortly thereafter, appoint an individual or a group to task with creating an actual plan for implementing the ideas produced in the session. You may want to wait until the close of the meeting to select the most appropriate members of your team to translate the newly brainstormed ideas into action and results.