The Birth Of IdeasAuthor: Byron Pulsifer, ©2015
The spawning of ideas to many comes with a seemingly ease of will. For these types of people, it seems that ideas flow from their subconscious mind to the conscious level without the slightest hint of focused thinking.
To others, though, ideas come only through investing time in research. Some of this research may mean using the Internet as a method to find ideas. Or, it may mean that one needs to read magazines relative to the main focus of the endeavour, or to read countless newspaper articles.
On the other hand, a great way to generate ideas is to sit with friends or colleagues and use a technique often referred to as brainstorming.
For those wishing to develop new ideas for a host of activities, including marketing, product design, or subjects for article writing, or even novel writing, brainstorming can be a very useful technique and a technique that can save numerous hours of research using some of the methods mentioned earlier.
The First Steps
To properly use this technique, you will need to gather together a number of people who know something about the general area in which you work, or know which direction you wish to develop whatever program you wish to pursue, clarify of revamp.
This is to say, for example, that you would not invite your friends from the bowling league to help brainstorm a new idea for marketing a high tech laser product unless, of course, your bowling buddies are all from the laser industry. The same invitational strategy applies as well to any facet of business, school projects, civic programs, or non-profit organizations.
The process is not hard but there are certain ground rules that must be observed if you truly want your brainstorming session to be successful.
Learn Not To Judge
One of the most important rules is this: do not judge the merits of any ideas offered.
In other words, no one can be allowed to utter comments like; "That's a dumb suggestion", or, "That will never work". I must emphasize this very important rule. In my experience conducting many brainstorming sessions, or participating in these sessions, the main reason that the sessions is unsuccessful is because the leader of the session did not enforce this primary rule.
Please bear in mind that whomever you invite, there is usually one or even two people who, for a variety of personal reasons, want to or need to dominate the idea suggesting of others. You must, as a brainstorming leader, ensure strict control is this vital first step of a session.
The next step is to . . . .
Record All Ideas
One person, probably the person who called the session together, or a person chosen or volunteers, should simply record every idea offered onto a flip chart or a large white board. Record the ideas as briefly as possible but make sure that the main core of the idea is represented.
If you have difficulty shortening a long expressed thought, ask the individual expressing the idea to give you a more concise sentence, or, ask the group to offer a more concise point agreeable to the person that first expressed the idea. The main task here is to make suggested ideas concise enough (no more than one sentence) that they succinctly express the relevant point.
Once all the ideas have been recorded, it is time to begin the second part of the process.
By the way, if you want to limit the time allotted to the generating of ideas, say so at the beginning. One reason you may want to set a time limit is to maintain focus and concentration. The longer the session is, the more you risk losing participants focus.
If you are leading the session, it is critical that you keep reinforcing the notion that no idea is unworthy of recording. You ideally want to have every possible suggestion recorded for further review and discussion no matter how off the wall you might think it is.
So Now What
The next step requires evaluation of all the generated ideas.
This is where you will have to establish certain guidelines to help in your evaluation.
For example, you may wish to evaluate each idea based on how much it would cost, or how easy it would be to implement, or whether you can develop the suggestion to fruition or need to seek outside assistance. One suggestion is that you spend a few minutes and see if you can cluster the ideas into categories.
For example, if your session has to do with marketing, one cluster of ideas may be financial, another may be in relation to writing marketing material, or one may be choosing a catchy slogan. Again, set a time limit so you not only use the participants time wisely, but so you can maintain focused thinking.
Generating ideas is often not the issue.
If you have been successful in conducting a brainstorming session, the real issue is judging the merits of the ideas.
Here are just a few examples of some of the issues that you could face:
1) cost of implementation. Let's be honest. If we all had an unlimited budget at our disposal, almost every idea generated in a brainstorming session could probably be implemented. But, unlimited budgets are not a reality for most of us.
Therefore, one of the key elements of evaluating any idea that will cost money is to weigh the cost against a) whether there are sufficient funds available to initiate the idea completely, and b) whether the financial cost provides a sufficient return of investment. For example, if an idea costs three thousand dollars to initiate and the expected return of spending this amount is only one thousand dollars, there is no merit to implementation.
The critical question here than becomes whether there are other ideas, or a part of the original idea, that could accomplish the same intended outcome for a lot less money giving you the return on investment that is financially sound.
2) human resources required. Every idea no matter how seemingly small requires someone to devote both time and energy to bring it to a conclusion. Some ideas while appearing to be brilliant may unfortunately be the one that requires too many human resources to initiate and complete. The resources required may be too much, and therefore, not doable. However, it doesn't mean that you need to throw away the idea completely. Maybe it is possible to alter the original idea so that a key component is doable with the resources that you have.
3) are required skill sets already in place? Some ideas may be able to be implemented easily because the required skill and experience is already available within your group, your company, or your organization. If not, you may have to spend additional money on upgrading a person's skills, or using an outside supplier who already posses the skills needed.
4) required time for implementation. Do not overlook this critical component. While some thoughts are fantastic, the time required to put them into play may be so long that the issue that needed to be corrected or initiated becomes lost. Time is of the essence especially when a short term gain is of the utmost importance.
5) commitment to implement. You need not only the commitment from the person or person's responsible for the work, you need the commitment and buy in from senior management or a board of directors. There is little to no sense in beginning an implementation process unless there is a confirmed buy in from those who are in overall control.
So, what are you waiting for? Now that you know the strategy, generate some great, new ideas.
Inspirational Quotes for Reflection:
"It is amazing to see when a person has an idea, and they takes that idea, they add a little passion, and with further continued effort, makes the idea a reality." Byron Pulsifer
"And that's the great thing about the world of ideas- any of us with the right insight and the right message, can make an idea stick." Chip Heath and Dan Heath
"All it takes sometimes is a gentle nudge, a little encouragement. Do not delay. Get your ideas down on paper and register your idea with a patent office." Catherine Pulsifer, Left Behind
"The biggest person with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest people with the smallest minds; Think big anyway! Author Unknown
Read more Inspirational Thoughts
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