Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Brainstorming

Twenty years ago there wasn't a consumer internet. There wasn't Google, there wasn't Facebook, there wasn't Twitter, there wasn't YouTube. All of these great ideas are new ideas that were once only a thought in the brain of a creative person. In the last three years Groupon has grown from nothing to doing two billion in sales - the fastest growing company in the history of the world. So many of these ideas were developed in brainstorming sessions.

What is the next great idea for you? For your family? For your job? For the new business you may start? For the new product your company needs to develop? For the new service your company needs to develop? The topic of brainstorming is always worth spending some time on.

Inc magazine recently ran an article with the title of How To Run A Brainstorming Session and there is much to get from this article. One point from the article is to "Check Your Title At the Door"
or in other words - when in the meeting give everyone a chance to participate. Often when the CEO begins an idea, everyone wants to tag on to that thought. This is dangerous because the outcome is a myopic organization. If the CEO has great ideas, then it works. But if, or once, the CEO has a bad idea or a string of bad ideas, then trouble happens. Just because someone doesn't have a title doesn't mean s/he can't have a great idea. Often times the people closest to the work have some of the best ideas. Ideas that improve the service level to the customer can, and often do, result in some incredible new products or services.

Another great point is to make "ideas a part of the culture." There is a concept in a Lean Manufacturing organization that encourages ideas from everyone. In our company each person has a goal of submitting one improvement idea per month. With about 100 people, we are getting between 1,000 and 1,200 ideas per year. Obviously, not all of the ideas can be used but it has been amazing the number of great ideas that have come from this one tool.

Brainstorming is essential to any company that wants to improve and stay in business over the long haul. Make this a part of your organization and enjoy the benefits of a company full of new ideas.

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