“The Thinks You Can Think”, or Why Your Team Needs to Brainstorm

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh the thinks you can think up if only you try.” – Dr. Seuss

Brainstorming is the act of having an open forum for a group of people to freely discuss a particular topic. The idea being that open discussion promotes creative problem solving and identifies opportunities better than traditional meetings where one person leads the discussion.

Non-judgmental brainstorm sessions with your team work wonders for advancing creative thoughts, even for people who always seem to think creatively. By non-judgmental, I mean both criticism and championing is not permitted.

Regular brainstorm sessions can:

  • Improve your team’s communications skills and ability to work together.
  • Discover and expedite solutions for areas in need of improvement.
  • Allow team members to feel like valued contributors to the company’s success and not just along for the ride.
  • Allow for an enhanced client service experience (if the client is involved).

Tips for successful brainstorming:

  • Schedule regular sessions, at a intervals that work for you – weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, and make sure you and your team keep the appointments. A brainstorming program needs to have regular participants to build confidence, trust and momentum.
  • Ensure that each participant understands and agrees to the rules at the outset.
  • Accept all suggestions without judgment. Brainstorm sessions benefit most from critical thinking and that won’t happen if people feel like they can’t be heard and accepted.
  • Keep to your schedule. If you schedule one hour to brainstorm, respect the time of each participant. It is important that the session not feel like an inconvenience to participants, but a welcome break from their regular work.
  • Keep to your agenda. Focus on one or two issues in each brainstorm session. This allows you to take a reasonable amount of time to drill down to a creative solution.
  • Consider bringing in a trusted ‘outsider’ to each session. This may be someone from another team, or even a client. Whoever it is, it should be someone who will participate (but not dominate the session) and offers a different point of view than your team.
  • Rotate your brainstorm leader for each session. This helps team members develop confidence, leadership skills and engagement.
  • When a suggestion is brought forward that the group wants to pursue, before implementing it can be a good take-away exercise to ask each team member to develop a related list of pros and cons for discussion at a future brainstorming session. This can help work through any potential kinks in the plan.

If you’re interested in developing regular a brainstorming program and want help setting it up, I can help. Email me at jen@jenfritz.com to discuss how.

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