Brainstorming isn’t always easy, but it can be the key to invigorating your business!
A big part of success is repeating past successes, but this is also an easy way to find your business stuck in a rut. As much as we talk about innovation every day, we don’t always take the time to generate new ideas.
In this video, Michael Polzler and Manuel Alvarez from RE/MAX Portugal discuss the benefits of an immersive brainstorm session:
Move Past Best Practices
Sharing best practices is great, but you should dream up new ways of doing things if you expect your business to level up. Status quo practices will lead to status quo results, but brainstorming leads to fresh perspectives, strategies, and tactics you haven’t tried before. This is what you’re aiming for when you leave the day-to-day behind for a brainstorm with your partners.
Like everything in business, brainstorming can be effective or not depending on how it’s done, so try these tips if you’re a little out of practice!
1. There are NO Dumb Ideas
This old truism from your school days is still in effect – the surest way to stop a brainstorm dead in its tracks is to stop and criticize or comment on the ideas as they’re coming!
The first step of any proper brainstorm is to get the discussion going, get everyone involved, and simply note what comes up. Some of these will be silly, some will be straight-up jokes, but all of these can reveal assumptions and challenges about your business you may not have known.
2. Start with Writing
A common challenge with group brainstorm sessions is that they favor the extroverts – those of us who get energized by talking and getting feedback from others. Introverts get their energy from solitude and reflection, and a room full of people talking over one another will keep them quiet.
Instead, have everyone write down their first ideas, maybe even before the session officially begins, then have these read aloud in the group. This will give everyone a head-start and supercharge your session!
3. Get Everyone Involved
Once your session is rolling, you’ll run back into the problem mentioned above – your talkers will talk and your writers will clam up. This is when it can be helpful to try a “round robin” circle, asking everyone to give their thoughts on the same issue. Not everyone on the team will feel confident enough to jump in with their thoughts but they will once they’re called on to speak. Give everyone a turn to talk and make sure a pre-designated moderator is taking care of this; one or two rounds of this will break the ice.
Bonus Tip: Call on people out of order; they won’t have time to overthink their answers if they don’t know when their turn is coming!
4. Break the Session into Goals
A wide-open brainstorm (something like, “Let’s think of better ways to promote our business”) can be overwhelming and overly broad. But breaking that down into more specific questions can sharpen thoughts.
If you’re leading the session, come prepared with five smaller questions or topics that lead to the big one, and then let the group work through each one. It will make it easier to get to “better” answers, and that sense of satisfaction will inspire your session mates to keep going.
5. Keep it Moving! (And Keep it Light)
It can be tempting to dwell on some brainstorm answers, especially the exciting ones. But this is also a great way to stop your momentum, which you want to avoid!
Keep your pace up and the new ideas flowing with a rapid-fire session; jot down the ideas as they come and immediately move on to the next, like a lightning round in a game show.
You can always pick out your favorites to explore later. And while you’re at it, keep the vibe fun with some music and snacks. If people feel more like they’re at a dinner party than a business meeting, they’ll feel relaxed and more open to jumping in.