Brainstorm 2.0

How do you negotiate or strategically plan your organization’s next step as an active partner with 50,000 individuals? Ideation can help leaders focus a group, allowing them to speak in one clear and strong voice. Using the right social media tools helps bring the crowd together to brainstorm about a single topic, and then self-prioritize their own efforts. Unlike a virtual survey, which is asking specific questions with limited (hopefully quantitative and measurable) answers or a focus group, a fact-finding discussion, innovation management helps to solve a specific problem. What is a good way to visualize this effort to help in your broad strategic planning?

Picturing your ideation efforts as a brainstorm helps to create a successful effort. A brainstorm is a finite and focused effort that brings the right people together to “storm” ideas around an issue or problem. It is a structured framework around a creative challenge with well established phases that (usually) lead to clear outcomes. As long as the framework is followed, including a clear goal, defined agenda, open forum/storming, prioritizing and concluding, a brainstorm can be a powerful and dynamic group consensus builder and problem solver.

Brainstorms, both traditional and virtual, are not always successful. Good planning will increase your chances of success. Here is a version of the checklist that I have used successfully in the past:

  • Why is input needed at this time?
  • Is there funding and interest to implement the recommendations of the brainstorm?
  • How can the brainstorm be shaped to focus on the specific issue with minimal tangents?
  • Who are the right people to have in the room?
  • What are the impacts and mitigations of an unsuccessful brainstorm?

Some innovation management brainstorms are open forums, some are closed or focused. While each brings a different value, the goals are still the same. Open forums allow the group to drive the topic for the brainstorm, creating a bottom-up model of problem-solving. These create small forums of creativity have the greatest challenge of reaching consensus, conclusion and implementation. Closed or focused forums are driven by a top-down model, with the leadership setting the topic for discussion. These efforts are challenged to engage the group and foster truly creative solutions.

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