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Accomplish Your Mission: A Plan of Action.

  1. Determine and Set Business priorities and mission.
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  2. Develop a Strategic Plan to accomplish the priorities and mission.
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  3. Turn the Strategy into Action Items (goals with deadlines) to accomplish same.  Do this periodically,on-going (because life is dynamic and things change) use your business strategy to create action items, the accomplishment of which, will move you closer to the achievement of your mission.
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  4. Be Different and Better: be sure to have an offering (product, service, or skill base) that is different and/or better than the offerings of others in your industry/profession.
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  5. Out-execute and out-work the competition – seek to be the leader in your field.
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  6. Remove Marketing Limitations; regularly brainstorm and enact new ideas; aim for excellence in marketing; be the leader.
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  7. Focus on achieving excellence: institute and maintain adherence to policies that support “a cut above” performance.
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  8. Stay Sharp and Continue to Get Better: keep your eyes and ears open for ways to improve your business; set up a systematic, scheduled process for enduring improvement;  on-going, improve your practice, process and delivery systems.
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  9. Never forget, performance is everything!
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  10. Daily thoughts and actions that move you in the direction of your goal are the keys to success.  Discipline yourself to do what it takes to achieve your mission.  And frequently ask yourself, does this thought or act move me closer to my goal?

“Nothing happens until something moves.” –Albert Einstein

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Problem Solving for Business Breakthroughs — Part II

Intro: Is logical problem solving worth learning?

The wet basement story:  Once upon a time, a woman had a wet basement.  She didn’t know what to do about it so she asked three friends for suggestions.  Friend one said, “You need to call a basement waterproofing company.”  Friend two said, “You need to call a plumber”.  And, friend three said, “you need to call a construction contractor.”  So she called all three to get their opinions and solutions.

The Construction Contractor said, “The only way to fix this is to excavate your entire foundation, replace any rotted block, plaster the walls with cement, waterproof with a tar like material, put a french drain around the entire outside perimeter and back-fill the ditch.”  Cost: $20K

The Plumber said “We have to dig up all you drain pipes and water pipes and replace them.”  Cost: $15K

The Basement Water Proofing Company said, “We have to construct a french drain around the interior of your basement, drill hole in the wall to let the water in more freely and install a sump pump to collect and pump the water out.”  Cost:$10K

The woman was now very confused.  All three contractors gave her different solutions with very different costs.  Which one was correct?  Not knowing what to do, she consulted with her nephew, who she knew had strong common sense.  She asked him what she should do.  He said, “I’ll  be right over”; and he elaborated that he could easily figure out what to do using his buddy RELF.   When he arrived, she asked him about his buddy Ralph.  He explained, “it’s not a friend but a system, with an acronym R.E.L.F, which sounds similar to Ralph.”

Now he explained, the first thing they had to do was recognize what was happening.  So she explained her wet basement problem.  The next thing he said they had to do was elaborate a little .  So he asked her some relevant questions, such as , “Does the water come in all the time, or only when it rains?” Does it come in on all rains or only particular ones?”  “Is there a lot of water on hard rains, many days of rain, etc?”   “Does the water come in at any one specific location or are there many?”  After getting his answers, they determined that the water only came in on one wall but in several places along the wall.  And, two that she only noticed the problem after it rained, ay rain would do it.

Now, the nephew continued, we will list all of the things we think it could be.  They listed, underground spring, rotted block allowing ground water to seep in, busted sewer drain pipes, and broken rain conductor pipe(s).

The nephew further explained how that they should start by investigating the easiest idea on their list, and where they had some control over it.  He figured this would be to test the rain conductor pipes that led water from the house roof to the street.

Based on all the information, the nephew said, “the next thing we have to do is agitate the problem a little to see if we can re-create it; so, how about we take your garden hose and with it we’ll run water down your rain conductor pipes (the ones that the roof down spouts lead in to).  This test will tell us if they are the cause of the problem.”

So, they ran the test; and, they discovered that when they put water into the two downspouts, along the wall in question, that after approximately ten minutes, water appeared in the basement.

Next, the nephew asked if she had a spade shovel because the rain conductors are usually not buried that deep and he wanted to uncover them and look at their condition.

The nephew spent about an hour digging up the pipe in question, it was only eighteen inches under ground; and, he found the old clay pipes to be deteriorated and crushed.

So off to the hardware store he went, to purchase twenty-feet of pipe and pipe cement.  He then spent another hour installing the pipes, testing with the hose, and burying the pipe.

Total materials cost: $45.00  Total time: 2-3 hours

The RELF system saved the women at min $9950.00 less what she gave her nephew for his help.

What can it do for you?

With the RELF system you can easily learn how to solve problems effectively.  And it can be used to solve almost any problem.

Using this system you can be more creative, make more money, save money, time, embarrassment and maybe even someone’s life!

With this system you can make your business more efficient, effective and profitable.  You can use it to increase customer satisfaction and employee morale and thereby create a sustainable cash flow.

As an employed individual you can use it to gain favorable recognition, and faster raises and promotions.  And with a little creative thought, you can use it to improve all of your personal relationships–with family, friends and romantic interests.

Problem Solving 2–RELF™

The RELF system is an easy to use, yet powerful and reliable method of problem solving.

RELF is an acronym for a problem solving system that will work on almost anything—but in difficult cases or complex devices, your success will depend on you having an excellent understanding of the thing you’re trying to fix.

The acronym RELF stands for Recognize, Elaborate, List and Find.  Now let’s review what they mean in greater detail.

To successfully use the RELF technique, you should study and learn everything you can about what it is you’re trying to fix, repair and/or solve.  Therefore, hunt down and gather all known literature and other information about it before you begin.  Also, you should seek to know every facet of the entire situation, as the case may be.

The next thing to do is to classify the problem; decide if the problem is a major problem or a minor problem.  Is it a degradation of a thing or process?  Or, is it a total failure of a thing or process?  (The difference here determines whether something is discarded and replaced or refurbished or patched up.)

Lastly, remember that this is a logical procedure; therefore, make sure your observations and decisions are based on facts—don’t guess.

Here is the procedure in detail:

The RELF Problem Solving Method

Step 1: Recognize

Recognize the problem or problem symptoms.

In this first step, use your knowledge of the situation and the required or desired outcome vs. what you’re getting.  What is the normal output vs. what you’re getting?   From this you define what the trouble is and/or what the problem symptoms are.

Symptoms are often mistaken as the problem; so, in this step it is critical that you separate them and clarify what you are observing, a problem or the symptom of a problem.  For example: The problem could be you can’t function normally, you feel sick—(this is actually a symptom but initially it is identified as the problem. The symptoms could be, you don’t feel good and you have a high temperature and a sore throat (Often, the problem isn’t identified until all diagnosing and testing is complete and reviewed, and solutions tested, etc.  In this example, you have a virus but that is yet to be determined.).

Sometimes, it is helpful to clearly and factually write out a problem statement and then list all symptoms that you can identify.  Then use your reasoning ability to determine the details, get clear about what you’re dealing with and sort the problem(s) from symptom(s).

To be an effective problem solver, you must recognize the problem exists and then discover all the symptoms.

 

Step 2: Elaborate

Elaborate on the problem or problem symptoms.

In this step, you will be attempting to make changes in the symptoms.  You will do this by agitating and probing to clarify what is actually going on.  You will agitate and make small changes in specific tests to uncover and probe deeper into the symptom.  You must gather more specific information about the problem.  To do so, you use the knowledge you have about the problem, symptoms, situation and various items related to those, as well as any cause and effect relationships you know of–to see if you can make changes in the problem.  (You take a person’s temperature; and, you put a cool cloth on their forehead; you turn knobs, change stations, move antennae, etc.)

Based on the knowledge you have, start by listing some simple causative actions you can take.  After creating this list, test some of your ideas to see what effect, if any, they have on the problem or overall situation.  Perform such tests, techniques, changes or agitation that you think may add valuable insight to your diagnosis. Observe what happens and write out what effect each action had on the problem or what the test result was (Create an action and effect list.).  What effect did the change have on the main problem?  Did the change create a related problem or symptom?  Do the tests or change results/effects confirm and support an original idea or steer you in a different direction?  Did the action give you such clues that you may eliminate certain items as suspected solutions?  Or, did the action reinforce previous symptoms?

Make as many simple tests, changes and adjustments that you can think of and record the results and what affects they had on the main problem.  Use your knowledge and information about the problem and situation to make sound logical decisions.

 

Step 3: List

List the possible faults and/or solutions.

Using the information you obtained in the first two steps along with your personal knowledge and accumulated reference materials, create a list of all the possible faults and solutions.

 

Step 4: Find

Find the exact faults and/or solutions.

This is the step where you begin to eliminate, one by one, the items you listed out as solutions to the problem.  Test each solution beginning with the most logical or most likely answer or the one that’s easiest to test. (Tip: Always work from the most logical to the least logical and from the easiest to the most difficult.)

Continue this process of elimination in a logical order until you’ve come up with the right solution.  Throughout the process, utilize your reference material, facts you gathered, and your cause and effect list.

After you’ve located the exact cause or reason for the problem and implemented its solution, in some cases, you’ll find it’s a good idea to confirm your solution by removing it to see if the exact problem occurs.  In this way, you can verify if you’ve truly solved the problem.  Obviously, after verification you re-establish the solution and correct the problem.

Note:  You should definitely do this verification if the device or situation is or can be life-critical; otherwise, base your decision to do this on the probabilities of risk vs. reward or potential loss possibilities or convenience of the situation or if it makes sense or if time permits–use your best judgment here. (Of course, there are exceptions.  One big one is the difference between human beings and machines.  Testing and re-verifying with a machine is often simple, necessary to insure safety, and cost-effective in the long-run.  On the other hand, the case with humans is, you are not likely to remove a working solution for verification purposes.)

Some suggestions for obtaining the most from the RELF method:

A.)  Always use the information you gather from each step to make your analysis and selections.

B.)  Write down all the problems, symptoms, possible situations and solutions.

C.)  Draw detailed graphic pictures or line drawings to help you reason and resolve.

D.)  Review all the information products (manuals, books, software, block diagrams, schematic diagrams, journals, etc) and intelligence you have about the situation.

E.)  Leave it alone–after intense hours of concentration on a problem, try leaving it alone for a while–take a break.  And when you’re on the break, try not to think about the problem–do something or talk about something else. (Get some rest and relaxation. Go for a swim, take a walk, exercise, (any recreational activity), play a game, etc., basically relax and don’t think about work.)

F.)  Strive to be relentless and tenacious in your trial substitution and elimination process.

G.)  Persist in your attempt to find new cause and effect relationships.

H.)  Talk to other people about the problem.  Seek out expert advice and sound your ideas off of them and others.  Be sure to listen to other people’s ideas as well.

 Talk with technical support staff, colleagues, and trusted advisors to get their ideas.  (Always, use the proper professionals, (Doctor, Attorney, Engineer, Dentist, etc.) or craftsman when the situation calls for it.)

I.)  Never quit, stay focused and optimistic.  There is, after all, an answer to everything.

Your goal + faith + Ask, Seek, and Knock + a positive attitude and honest work = you achieving your goal.

Whether you’re faced with a difficult problem or a simple one, the RELF system is an easy to use and effective method that will work for you.  And it’s easy to remember, R.E.L.F. (“Ralph”) Recognize, Elaborate, List and Find.

I hope you’ll take the time to memorize this method and then use it when the need arises.  If you do you will gain greater control over the events in your life, in your personal life and in your business life.  Using it, you will always know what to do to resolve an issue.  Furthermore, you will experience less panic in your life, achieve more in less time, be more creative, make a better business, home, or family; moreover, as an effective problem solver you will develop a more positive outlook, you’ll be more optimistic, and thereby, you’ll enjoy life!

R.E.L.F., it’s so simple you can begin using it today!

 

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Problem Solving for Business Breakthroughs — Part I

Basic Problem Solving

The method that follows is simple and easy to use; however, don’t let the functional simplicity fool you.  It is in fact, an incredibly profitable systematic method that can prevent losses and improve results.  And, I believe you’ll find most day-to-day problems are the perfect candidate for its use.  In addition, more likely than not, you’ll find your problem can be resolved with this tool.

The Problem Solving 1 Method has seven steps.  Most likely you’ll succeed in finding a solution to your problem prior to Step Seven.  But when you find yourself at Step Seven, you can take comfort in the fact that this is the exact procedure Thomas Edison used to discover a better light bulb filament.  And heck that’s not bad company at all.

Problem Solving 1

STEP ONE:  Describe the Problem.  Write a description of the problem.  In the first draft you can add as many details as you like and be as descriptive as you’re comfortable with.  However, the final draft should succinctly describe the problem in one sentence.

STEP TWO:  List all possible solutions.  Generate a list of all the possible solutions.  Just start writing.  Even if you’re not sure of what to write, begin anyway.  The more you write, the more ideas you will think up and you can always discard ideas that won’t work.  Keep writing possible solutions until you’re exhausted of ideas.

STEP THREE:  Select the best solution.  Review the list of solutions and select the very best solution.  (You may have the answer right away or you may have to debate it.  You may have to think about, sleep on it, use the pros and cons method, or the process of elimination method.)

STEP FOUR:  Select the second best solution.

STEP FIVE:  Review to be sure.  Review your stated problem, and list of all possible solutions, in conjunction with the first and second best solution selections.  After reviewing, consider if you made the right choices or if changes should be made.  (Sometimes it helps to do the review a day or two later–if time permits.)  After this review, firmly, decide on your number one solution.

STEP SIX:  Try your number one solution. Test your number one solution.  Try it out to see if it solves your stated problem.  If it works—the problem’s solved.  If not, try your second best solution.  Again, if it works, the problem is solved.  Now, if after trying your second best solution the problem still exists, proceed to Step Seven.

STEP SEVEN:  Trial and Error.  If a solution doesn’t look, feel, or seem right, or otherwise doesn’t work, get rid of it in favor of another.  Don’t get stuck or hung up on a solution.  Throw it out-of-the-way and get another one in place.  The idea is to keep moving–to keep making progress as quickly as possible.  To keep moving–keep trying or fitting new solutions.  The secret to success is to expedite your advancement.  Pondering over or falling in love with one solution or item that’s not quite working is killing time–causing delays.  Think of it as building a puzzle.  Try these solutions or puzzle pieces and if they work, good; if not, discard them and try another.  To quickly solve a puzzle or a problem, the best advice you can receive is this: If a solution doesn’t work, don’t fall in love with it; and, don’t try to force it.   Launch it (set it aside) and get another one.  Repeat this method until you succeed.  Remember, the secret here is to be decisive and act fast.

As business leaders, much of our day-to-day activity involves finding the best solutions to an onslaught of problems.  Therefore, it is incumbent that a competent leader be an excellent problem solver.  Problem solving 1 is just one more tool, in your tool box, that when properly used will help you to excel as a leader in your field.

This process is based on common sense, logic and testing solutions.  And, it will work–if you do!

 

Master Mind for Business Success

How You Can Build a Driving Force to Create Profitable Business

Introduction
First of all, you can be sure it’s a fact that no man is an island and nobody is one-hundred percent self-made, or very successful, without the positive and willing cooperation of others.  It’s just not possible.

You can easily prove this fact to yourself.  To do so, all you need to do is, take a look into your day-to-day activities and scrutinize them for this particular condition–positive and willing cooperation from others.  When you do this exercise, you’ll easily see this friendly co-operation coming from somebody.  Look to see who it is coming from, beyond today and yesterday.  Look to see if it is coming from associates, friends, family, teachers, coaches, counselors or business associations (co-workers, partners, employers, employees, vendors, customers, etc.).  It is there if you look for it. (If you don’t see any co-operation, you are probably very frustrated–which is an indicator of the need for change.)  If you took a serious look, I’ll bet you found a lot of co-operation; you’ve just grown used to it and now take it for granted—like a body part you use every day.

Now let’s study your success from the perspective of the company you keep.  You’ve probably heard this wisdom recited from a parent, grandparent, concerned adult friend or teacher.  (And, if you’re a parent you’ve probably told this to your children.)  “You become like the company you keep.” Or, “Birds of a feather flock together.”  And, just as in the above truth, regarding friendly co-operation, this wisdom is easily verifiable via introspection and observation of your reality.

Now, if it’s true that, “Birds of a feather flock together”, then wouldn’t it be wise to hang out daily with the following types of people: people who you most admire, individuals who share the same dreams and goals as you have for yourself; people you would enjoy being with a lot; individuals who are either already at or striving to be at the same social and/or economic status as that which you desire? (Yes?)

So, who are you hanging out with?  Who are you in business with?  Who are you working side by side with?  Who are you married to?   Why?  (Ask yourself, why? as a follow-up to all of your answers.)  And then, who should you be around more often?

To summarize, what we’ve said above is simply this: you need the friendly co-operation of other people and the company you keep rubs off on you.  You probably have always known these two things; but have you consciously used them to your advantage, and monitored the results from using them purposely?

The good news here is that, you can use this information to improve the quality of your business and your life in general.  And you can begin to do so as soon as you want to do so.  It’s only a matter of choice.  This you have control over.

From this knowledge comes the deduction that, you can manufacture greater and greater achievement by acknowledging these truths and then doing something with this information–act on it!  In other words, develop a plan for attention, identification, action, and review, as a routine, to bring your performance into alignment with what you desire.

Yes, you can deliberately use this knowledge to control your reality and life experience.

And here’s how: If you want to succeed in a big way, then it’s time to get with the right crowd, partner up with those who you can share yourself with and provide mutual benefits to and who you want to achieve something with.  Join with those people who provide to you something you need but in a mutually beneficial, positive, uplifting relationship.  Also, find and learn from the right mentor(s); adopt his or her beliefs where it is logical, ethical and appropriate to your life and dreams.  Hang out and work with those people of whom you wouldn’t mind if they rubbed off on you; because they will–and vice versa. (Characteristics, beliefs, attitudes, thinking styles, language, communications skills, habits, morals, etc., all of these things are transferred and adopted, slowly but surely, over time, within groups of people.)

A sure-fire way to “get with the right crowd” and accomplish this positive partnering is to intentionally create and join Master Mind groups.  Master Mind groups are groups that serve the needs of all the members and are focused on the achievement of a mutually desired goal.

Master Mind Defined
The phrase “Master Mind was first used by author Napoleon Hill, in his Science of Success Philosophy, to describe a powerful achievement concept.  At the urging of steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie, Mr. Hill was engaged in an exhaustive study of how individuals have won great business success.  Sharing his findings, with anyone who wished to obtain this knowledge, was the stated purpose of this study.  During his research, he coined the term “Master Mind” to describe a success concept whereby anyone may obtain the know-how and friendly co-operation of others, in all ways, through the formation of a focused group.  The purpose in creating this group is for the attainment of an ambition.

Hill recognized that all successful men and women came to know that, it is impossible to obtain huge goals without a group working harmoniously towards the same.  Like honey bees building a honeycomb, a Master Mind group provides the organized co-operation to accomplish a big goal.

Success in the creation of a Master Mind is dependent on its being a mutually agreed upon sympathetic relationship between members.  This is critical to achieve a major objective.

In his classic success book, “Think and Grow Rich”, Mr. Hill defines the Master Mind Principle as: “Coordination of knowledge and effort, in a spirit of harmony, between two or more people, for the attainment of a definite purpose.”

Now comes from Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary the definition of the word mastermind as, mastermind (n): a person who supplies the directing or creative intelligence for a project.

From the above two definitions you can easily identify the difference in the word mastermind and the term “Master Mind”.  It’s an important distinction to be aware of in terms of using this concept addressed herein.

Why would you want to form a “Master Mind”?

There are two general reasons for forming Master Mind associations.

  1. Personal and social reasons;  and,
  2. Business, professional and economic purposes.

Regardless of your purpose, you form the team in order to gain the benefits of experience, training, know-how, talent, skill, friendship, intelligence and knowledge of others.  You form it to create marvelous motivation, emotional drive and faith in pursuit of some strong desire.  You do so, to establish and provide a joint effort in subconscious problem solving, creativity and brainstorming, to accomplish your desire.  You create it to enlist and unleash the power of others, in a concentrated team effort, wherein the sum of the parts is more potent than the individuals could be alone.  And, you do it because it brings you the skills, knowledge, muscle and enthusiastic help of other people; individuals of whom without, there is no way you could accomplish anywhere near as much.

Among its many uses (and there are many) is the formation and running of a successful business.  In this regard, it can help you bring a business to life and to the greatest heights of success.

Establish the Purpose for Creating your Master Mind group
In order to be a focused group, there must be an agreed upon reason for collaboration.  What is the goal for the Master Mind Team?  The answer to this question is the group’s reason for being.  Once the general purpose has been established, spend some time crystallizing your vision; because, the more precisely you define it, the better the team results will be.

Forming and Maintaining the Master Mind
Each group must be, intentionally and specifically created, the individuals critically selected, the group purposefully organized, and routinely cultivated; and, it must always be used correctly, in order to successfully achieve the intended purpose of its formation.  This stuff is all vital; your mission is at stake.

Benefits for All
Make certain there is a benefit to everyone in the group.

The Necessary Success Qualities of a Master Mind Group:

  1. Perfect harmony among all members
  2. A specific, dynamic, invigorating purpose
  3. A strategic plan
  4. Disciplined individuals and disciplined as a group
  5. A good reputation
  6. Teamwork
  7. Individual efforts intensified through focus and coordination

The most critical success quality of the individual members of a Master Mind group is:

  1. Harmonious mentality –– a desire and willingness to get along with others.
    The ability to keep perfect harmony with other people is the sign of a mature and healthy personality. In regards to the success of your Master Mind group, this is the number one thing that must be adhered to.  Perfect harmony among the Master Mind group members is a must.  Therefore, each member must exhibit (or be trainable and willing to use) personal interaction skills when dealing with one another.  Some examples are: concentration when listening, tactful requests, reasoning with logic, diplomacy, a positive attitude towards each other, consideration, sensitivity and thoughtfulness towards one another and overall common sense when dealing with people.  This is a critical personal trait that each member must possess and exercise more often than not.

Master Mind for Business Leaders, in a Nutshell
You can manufacture great achievement by intentionally creating great Master Mind Teams.  You can use this idea to improve the quality of any business and any life in general.

A successful Master Mind group is the result of selective partnering for a purpose.

If you have a business (or want to create one) wherein you rely on others for the function and success of the business, the Master Mind Team concept will work wonders for you.

If you are a sole proprietor, doing most or all of the work yourself, you can still utilize this Master Mind principle. If this is your situation, you can adopt and adapt this concept in many ways.  Such as, you can create a group of “like-minded” business owners; and/or, creatively group with whomever you engage in business with (subcontractors, outsourcing companies, suppliers or customers).  In addition, you can Master Mind with your spouse, or the family and friends who can or do help you.

The point is, if you’re in business, any kind of business, you can adopt and adapt this Master Mind idea to your benefit.  In doing so, you can build a long-lasting driving force that creates profitable business.  Make it a great Master Mind and it will give you an unfair advantage.

As a final point, yes–you can deliberately use this knowledge to control your reality and life experience.  Now that’s a compelling concept!  It does take action though; so: Plan it; expect it; do it!

I hope you consciously use the Master Mind principle to your advantage; if you do, it will be one of the greatest and most powerful ideas you will have ever put to use.

 

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Brainstorming for Growth and Success

Thinking up Great Ideas

Generating ideas via the “Brainstorming” approach, and using the exceptional ones, in conjunction with your primary business navigation and production systems, is possibly the quickest, most effective way, to improve results, business systems, profits and products.  And, it’s a great Path-Finding tool.  When you’re looking for the best way to do something, if you need to find your way, “Brainstorming” to maximize the number of choices at your disposal, is a proven method.  The point is, it can help you make continuous progress towards any complex objective—growing a great business, for example.

Besides improving your business, you can use it to improve yourself, on-going.  Considering these potential benefits, it’s a safe bet that we could have so much more in our lives and build stronger businesses, if we would generate and put into use more exceptional ideas.

Indeed, in business, as well as our personal lives, we are truly only limited by our imagination–our creative power to generate great ideas; if we could only uncover more exceptional ideas, why, we could grow exponentially.  And in business, having more exceptional ideas to act on, well, this can easily be turned into competitive advantage.  In fact, idea leaders often blow-away all competitors to the point where they really have none.  Idea leaders often lead the field by such a huge margin that they are considered to be in a class of their own.  So this begs the question, how can we become the idea leader; and, how can we discover truly exceptional ideas?

The answer lies in the power of thought–in the human mind.  With some fifteen billion neurons and an infinite ability to combine thoughts, your brain is something a computer will never be–a phenomenal idea machine. However, your brain’s ability to think up ideas is limited by many things: your accumulated knowledge, your experiences and exposure to the world at large, your thinking power and skills, your attitude and personality and perhaps some type of connection or vibration resonance with universal intelligence, just to name a few.  But here’s the best part, as all of these aspects vary from person to person, we can use this individual uniqueness to our advantage and magnify our brain power via the assistance of other brains.  In fact, when many people work together on creating new ideas, the uniqueness of the participants makes the combination of ideas countless.  With this in mind, let’s take a look at a fantastic method to help you generate ideas.

Brainstorming[1] for Ideas
Brainstorming is a technique used to generate ideas.  The basic logic used here is that the more constructive thoughts the better.  To this end a group of people are assembled (The two heads are better than one theory applies here.).  The group can be as small as two people and as big as you feel appropriate and necessary to accomplish your objective.  But don’t make it too big and thereby sacrifice workability and efficiency.  I suspect there is some ideal number to get the best results, but a nice size is 8-20 people.

How to begin: start by selecting the participants and scheduling a meeting.  Your next job is to pick a leader for the group.  The leader’s job is to enforce the rules and keep the subject from straying off course.  Educate the leader on the rules and their responsibility during the session.  Next, you describe the problem in detail and write it out where everyone can clearly see it and reference it at will. (You can use a computer screen, blackboard, whiteboard, large poster paper or paper handouts as effective methods to display the problem in writing.)  Your next function is to describe the rules to everyone as well as the leader’s duties and functions.  Next, select a recorder–the person who will write out all the ideas on the display board (or display screen).  It is of great importance to this entire process that the ideas are written out legibly where everyone can see them.

After explaining the rules to the group, all members are encouraged to give their ideas and suggestions for solving the problem.  These suggestions are immediately posted either under the problem statement or to a different display board, in clear view, for all to see, by the recorder.  (Often, it takes many, many sheets of large easel paper to record and post all the suggestions; here’s an easy method: you can write large print with black marker on large easel paper and then use masking tape to hang the papers on the wall where everyone can see them.)

The most important instruction for everyone to adhere to is this: “During this suggestion phase, nothing anyone contributes, no comments, ideas or suggestions are to be questioned or condemned by any one at all.”   It is the leader’s job to enforce this rule; in addition, “all comments are to be constructive, positive and directed at solving the problem.”  The group leader cannot allow negative thoughts or criticism of any kind and therefore should act swiftly to stop it, if it occurs.  In addition, it is also the leader’s job to encourage the combining of ideas, goofy ideas and generally keep the atmosphere loose as well as optimistic.

Before the session is over, the recorded ideas are re-written in a manner in which they can be filed away.  The session is then adjourned and the meeting notes are stored safely.

After a couple of days pass by, another session is held.  At this session, the panel will review the ideas critically–exercising for the first time their powers of reasoning and judgment (Meeting members for this session must only contain the same members from the original panel and if necessary–do this alone.).  By this critical analysis, you will throw out those ideas that are considered no good.  This distilling down of the list should leave you with a few “best” ideas.

With the analysis and selection process complete, the panel is dismissed and again the remaining ideas are filed away.

After allowing several days to pass, review the remaining ideas by yourself.  Your aim here is to judiciously decide which ones to implement.  This is no time for democracy; the leader must decide alone which ideas are the very best ones to act on. (Of course, it is always a leader’s prerogative to gather more advice from appropriate advisers before making a critical decision.)

Alex F. Osborn’s Four Rules
The founding father of the idea generation technique called “Brainstorming”, Alex Osborn, instituted four basic rules to insure productive sessions.  The rules of conduct for the brainstorming session are:

  1.  Judgment is not permitted.
  2.  “Wildness” and “free-wheeling” of ideas is encouraged.
  3.  Quantity is the goal.
  4.  Combining and improving on ideas is desirable.

When performed properly, brainstorming is probably the most effective method in existence for generating a large quantity of ideas. And, by producing a large volume of ideas, it is reasonable to consider that you’ll come up with more solutions and creations.  You’ll likely be surprised by the Power of this method to deliver to you some exceptional ideas–gems that lead to improved business and growth. (Therefore, you might consider brainstorming on a regularly scheduled basis.  Many businesses do not or if they do, they don’t do the process as described above.  Therefore, if you do this as a routine, it could be a huge unfair advantage for you and your company.)

Brainstorming Alone
If you can’t put a group together, it is still beneficial to do a brainstorming exercise–you can do it alone or with a partner.  If at all possible have at least one other person beside yourself (Two heads are after all better than one.).  Sometimes you’ll need to do the brainstorming by yourself; and, while this will not yield nearly as many ideas or provide any assistance during the selection phase, nor provide you with a sounding board, it is still a very effective method.  Afterwards, you could seek advice from appropriate and trusted advisers.

Brainstorming for Leaders–In a Nutshell
Brainstorming is a powerful idea creation tool that you can use to generate a large volume of ideas.  Somewhere in this assortment of ideas you may find an exceptional idea.  Uncovering exceptional ideas and properly using them can place you and your business at the head of the pack, far ahead in some cases.  Therefore, you should give due consideration to include “Brainstorming” as a consistent part of your business process.

And, when it comes to brainstorming, there are vast uses for it.  For instance, you can use it whenever you need to think up new ideas, make difficult decisions or uncover solutions to any variety of situational needs.  You can use it to speed progress, solve problems, invent products and services, develop projects, produce more business, and improve most anything and much more…

Without a doubt, “Brainstorming”, when performed correctly, is a powerful business tool for thinking up great ideas and growing a business!

[1]Applied Imagination: Alex F. Osborn, American Business Executive (Father of Brainstorming).

Brainstorming for Growth and Success
(excerpt from the book: “Seven Steps to Riches” by Daniel L. Betz © 2000)

 
 

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