Brainstorming for brilliance – 5 minute read

by | Apr 6, 2021

Two key aspects of business success are systemisation and innovation.

As a leader or business owner, how well and how often do you think you are innovating? And if the answer isn’t what you would like it to be, what’s stopping you?

One often untapped resource for innovation, is making it a habit to encourage brilliant ideas from within our organisation!

As leaders, if we don’t create an environment where we draw out said brilliance, we miss out on creative ideas and innovation from people who care passionately about (and are often on the front lines of) the product or service we offer. We can miss out on ways forward that can lead to business growth and greater profitability.

As a team coach, I hear complaints from team members, that they don’t feel their ideas are accepted because their organisation has a top-down approach when rolling out initiatives, and they don’t accept innovative ideas or much feedback from middle management or the team. I have seen high performing team members resign purely for this reason citing they don’t feel they can add value and there’s no way for them to grow within the organisation.

I have also seen first-hand the enthusiasm created in team meetings and brainstorming sessions when leaders and teams collaborate. Even if most of the ideas don’t ultimately get the go ahead, everyone feels highly engaged because their ideas were heard and sometimes their idea will be the one that gets incorporated. The team culture is ultimately enhanced by these brainstorming sessions when they are done well.

So, is it time to increase the levels of innovation and team engagement in your organisation and how can you do it well?

Here are some tips for fostering brilliant brainstorming and harnessing the brains trust in your team;

1. Set expectations well. Make sure your team has been pre-briefed on when this brainstorming session is happening and what it is for. Block out the time and minimise distractions and interruptions so the team can focus, undisturbed. If you know what you are seeking ideas around, let them know beforehand. Some of your team members may be more reflective thinkers and not be as good at coming up with their ideas in the moment. Set them up for success by giving them a chance to think things through prior to your meeting.

2. Speak up. Yes you! Everyone is invited to speak. This is a meeting of minds and a meeting of equals. There is no hierarchy in a brainstorming session and anyone can speak up and throw in ideas. It’s helpful having a facilitator who can ensure we get to hear from everyone, especially some of our quieter team members. It is especially important the introverts on your team get an opportunity to speak up. The more extroverted personalities on your team have a tendency to hijack these kinds of sessions understandably, but high-quality ideas can often come from insightful introverts as well. If you don’t ask, you won’t get, so invite them repeatedly for their input and ideas.

3. No idea is a bad idea in a brainstorming session. Even if you think as the leader, ‘that will never work’, there’s no need to say that in the brainstorming session. You need to let the idea factory flow. You have to go through all the mud to get to the gold. All ideas are welcome. All voices are welcome. And you never know, something completely left field can be an idea that changes the course of your business or has a profound impact on your team. Later, when you are moving on to work with your top ideas, you can weed out ideas that are more mediocre than brilliant, but no one needs to be shot down in the team meeting in the process of making suggestions. If their ideas are shot down in front of their peers, how often do you think they will contribute in a team setting going forwards? Unless they have extremely thick skin, their voice will become a whisper that leads to silence. We all miss out when that happens.

As well as enhancing your team culture, when these brainstorming sessions are done well, you are also creating more psychological safety. When your team feel safe to fully engage, they play a bigger role in the direction and success of the organisation and feel a sense of ownership. This is the state many of my leadership coaching clients dream of getting to with their teams; high performing, fully engaged, confident, collaborative and creative. I am lucky to have worked with teams like this who started out with the potential of becoming high performing, and then to see these teams go from strength to strength and their organisations flourish. Brilliant brainstorming is a fundamental component of their success.

So take out your schedule, book in a brainstorm and be ready to set the expectations for a session that encourages the input of every member of your team – and let the brilliance begin!

Does the idea of running a brainstorming session stress you out?

If you have any challenges with getting your brainstorming sessions to go from bland to brilliant, whether it’s a lack of enthusiasm from your team or a lack of confidence in facilitating these sessions, reach out with your questions or to book in a complimentary 20 minute conversation to discuss.

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