Brainstorming sessions are one of the best ways to create new innovations in your company or division. Entrepreneurs who have taken many diploma of business courses have regular brainstorming sessions among their start-up partners. It has been used by a countless number of people over the years because it allows a broad listing of issues or problems that might require analysis and it can help to identify specific causes for specific problems. After all, the role of a manager is to create new innovations within the company to streamline things and to obviously try and save the company money. By using a brainstorming session among your staff, it helps to reduce the workload on you.
Who should be present at a session? Depending on the problem or issue being discussed, anyone who is directly involved. You wouldn’t have a team of sales people for example involved in a brainstorming session about how to run the photocopier cue more efficiently. They couldn’t care less about how long someone has to wait to use the photocopier and it doesn’t affect them directly. However, you would involve them if it’s a session about how to make the process of whatever paperwork is required of them more efficient. They are the ones who have to use the order forms etc so they should be involved in that one. Typically, the ideal number of participants should be between 5 and 6 and up to about 10 to 12 or so. Any larger and it could get chaotic.
Who should run the brainstorming session? Ideally a manager or supervisor of the department concerned. Sometimes a better idea is, especially if there could be major differences of opinion, someone impartial would be a better choice. That way all managers, supervisors and staff affected are free to participate in the discussion.
Years ago a great management article I read on this subject I have kept in mind to this day. If you have never run a brainstorming session, here are a few simple key points to keep in mind:
1. Try not to go on for more than 30-35 minutes.
2. Define the objective of the session. That way everyone knows what you’re trying to achieve.
3. Define the rules. Eg. one person speaks at a time, all ideas accepted, no insulting laughter at an idea and whatever else you may think is necessary.
4. Once all ideas are recorded, the mediator may bring in each idea one at a time and throw it open for discussion.
5. Set priorities for the conclusions reached and agree on a time frame for their implementation.
6. The mediator initiates action steps to be taken by maybe individual members of the group and a time frame for their conclusion, development, implementation and so on.
7. Then agree on follow-up meetings if needed and how you are going to measure progress on any new innovations which the group has created.
Regular brainstorming sessions are an easy way to get your whole team involved in matters that affect them. Why should you do all the thinking? The old saying goes that many heads are better than one. If your team feel their opinions are taken seriously by management, then that in turn will make them more productive. Regular brainstorming sessions are a must if you are going to create new innovations in your company.