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Ten Ideas for Better Brainstorming

How to achieve your objectives

Are you looking to boost your business income? Although brainstorming might lead to that “million dollar idea,” it can also be a waste of time. Here are 10 ideas to improve productivity.

  1. Choose a moderator. It is important to designate one person to guide the process. Otherwise, it is easy to get off track or out of control. Choose an authoritative figure who knows the project well, but who will not be overbearing—it might be you.
  2. Identify the goals. Begin the agenda with a clear and concise explanation of your mission. Again, if you don’t set some parameters at the outset, you are likely to waste a lot of valuable time.
  3. Get outside input. When you are constructing the team, add someone you might not normally include. This outsider can bring a fresh perspective to the mix. Fill out the roster with free thinkers and those who have close associations to the project.
  4. Limit the time. Do not let brainstorming turn into a never-ending story. Set specific times for sessions and a deadline for meeting goals. This will help ensure that the team stays on track. Conversely, when it is appropriate, you might extend a session if ideas are flowing.
  5. Keep good records. It may slow things down, but remember to keep notes during your brainstorming meetings. Every idea, whether it is good or bad, should be written down. Do not rely on your memory to bail you out. Provide as many details as the process will allow.
  6. Do not pass judgment. Initially, you should strive for quantity over quality. Instead of shooting down an idea, discuss it and then move on to the next one. If someone is discouraged from speaking up, productivity may suffer.
  7. Think outside the box. If there was ever a time to embrace the unusual, this is it. Encourage team members to be open to the possibilities, no matter how outlandish they may seem. You may be surprised to find that practical solutions may evolve from impractical suggestions.
  8. Encourage individuality. Do not allow your team to be drawn into a herd mentality. The moderator must watch for an overabundance of consensus thinking and steer the discussions accordingly. If appropriate, play the “devil’s advocate.”
  9. Narrow the focus. The moderator should help funnel general ideas into more specific concepts. This means beginning with a “scattergun approach” that might be all over the place and ending up with a laser beam dedicated to a single thought. If it is practical, break into smaller teams when an idea crystallizes.
  10. Aim for synergy. As you begin to winnow ideas, apply them to your company’s overall scheme. There could be a potential for creating some synergy within your operation or within the suggestions you have generated. When one idea dovetails with another, put them together.

None of these suggestions guarantees success, but implementing them should improve the chances. Learn from your mistakes, and build on the positives.

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