Brainstorming for Small Business
As your business begins planning for 2012, you may want to consider hosting a brainstorming session. Brainstorming is a technique that allows the creative genius inside your workforce to flow through for the common purpose of solving your company’s biggest problems. While brainstorming as a technique has been around for quite some time, the ways in which it is carried out have changed dramatically.
With more opportunities for telecommuting and alternative work arrangements, your best and brightest may be scattered across the country, rendering standard conference room whiteboard meetings difficult to carry out. Remote access programs such as GotoMyPC can be the solution to gathering your remote employees for a brainstorming meeting, as they allow you to collaborate with individuals in any time zone.
Smaller employers can look to online networking groups for assisting with idea generation. Be prepared to have patience with this method and collect ideas over the span of a week or two, as these forums allow members to generally participate on their own time. LinkedIn and Facebook have groups and pages dedicated to brainstorming.
Employers can tap into employee creativity outside of meetings using special mind mapping software. While there are plenty of programs to choose from, QuickBooks users may want to check out Intuit’s Brainstorm as a tool to gather and manage employee ideas. There may be benefits for sole proprietors as well, as you can save and organize your ideas as you go.
Regardless of format of your brainstorming meeting, creativity can quickly be stifled if your brainstorming session is not facilitated correctly. This article from Inc. Magazine shares the top 5 ways to kill a brainstorming session, summarized here:
1. Do not pass judgment – the purpose of the meeting is idea-generation, and any comment that is made regarding someone else’s idea is likely to promote hesitation amongst the members of the group from sharing their own thoughts.
2. Editing – checking spelling and punctuation is a left-brained activity that comes at the expense of creative thought. You can take care of tidying up after the session is over.
3. Thinking ahead – the goal is to generate as many ideas as possible while brainstorming. You can plan out how to carry out the best of those ideas in a different meeting.
4. Worry – set the tone of the meeting by being the first to throw out an outrageous idea. Your participants will be less likely to worry that their own ideas may not be good enough.
5. Wander – with all of the creativity flowing, you may find yourself getting off topic. If you feel the subject matter diverging from your original plans, create a “parking lot” list to revisit in another meeting.