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Brainstorming: Catching Lightning in a Bottle

by James Canada

Ideas are the true currency of any business. No matter what industry you’re in, you’re only as strong as your company’s ability to innovate. That means brainpower is one of your most vital natural resources.

Last month, we talked about building a HOT Team — a high-functioning group of employees that exudes passion, enthusiasm and support for each other and the company. This all-star squad of motivated minds is the ideal reservoir for the very ideas that will differentiate and elevate your business.

But how can you tap into that vast sea of unique minds? What’s the quickest, most efficient way to bring these perspectives together into cohesive, actionable ideas?

One answer is brainstorming.

The term “brainstorming” is thrown around a lot, and the very notion of a storm of ideas sounds disorganized, if not chaotic. But actual, productive brainstorming is a very structured activity in which participants can openly share their ideas and then have their colleagues build upon them. Brainstorming stimulates creative thinking, fosters team spirit by getting everyone involved, and usually helps a team generate as many ideas as possible in a short period of time.

To get the most out of your brainstorming session, here is a step-by-step guide to proceeding:
1. Clearly define the brainstorming topic.
2. Either set a goal for the number of ideas to be generated or a time limit for the exercise—this will help establish parameters and keep the session from getting out of hand.
3. Allow each team member to state one idea at a time.
4. Use an easel pad or white board to record all ideas exactly as stated so everyone can see and consider them.
5. Review the recorded list to further clarify ideas and eliminate any redundancy.

There are also a few tips I’d suggest along the way:
- Thoroughly discuss every idea so you can distill each one down to its essentials and limit debate later in the process.
- Record ALL ideas, even if they are obvious duplicates. You can combine later, and further discussion might reveal key differences between similar ideas.
- Temper criticism of ideas as they’re given, as criticism tends to discourage creativity and an open exchange.
- That said, make sure each member of the team has had their say on each idea.

Brainstorming is a great way to encourage diverse perspectives, build kernels into full-fledged ideas, and build team morale by offering participation and ownership of actionable solutions— all while solving problems and capturing the lightning bolts of inspiration that will be key to the company’s success.

James H. Canada is managing partner/CEO for Alliance Technologies LLC, ITEN mentor and author of “Corporate to Entrepreneur: Strategies for Success.” Contact Jim at james.canada@alliancetechnologiesllc.com, 636-734-2337 or www.alliancetechnologiesllc.com.

Submitted 11 days ago
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