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Brainstorming for Growth and Success

10 Mar

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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