As a solo or small business owner you wish you had access to the brainpower of a team. You know you could really get big ideas with group brainstorming.
Your business doesn't need to hire a team, but the brains of more than just yourself, could be so powerful!
It’s like the Lost at Sea survival game. You and group of people are marooned and have to rank the surviving items for importance. You rank the items by yourself first and then with a group. You find out you’ll actually die with your ranking list, but you’ll live and be rescued based on the group’s collective knowledge! Although, you might want to kick a few people off the island by the end!
Group brainstorming can be a successful way to get outside your head and get ideas you’d never think about.
Tons of businesses use group brainstorming to solve problems and answer questions. Questions like, how would you make the process faster, what new feature would solve our client’s biggest problems, or what other ways can we engage with our customers to make them feel special?
Brainstorming has been around for over 70 years as a way for creative problem solving.
Why brainstorm with a group?
The benefits of brainstorming with a group is you get a huge diversity of ideas, you also get the added benefit that ideas will ‘build and extend’ from other ideas and you simply get a lot MORE ideas!
Remember the entire goal of brainstorming is about the quantity of ideas, wild ideas included!
There is a ‘right’ mix of people for a group brainstorming session to have the best success. A good mix for the group is usually about 5-6 people. A couple of members should know the subject area really well, a couple of people who are familiar with using similar products or services and then 1 or 2 general creative types who don’t need any knowledge of the area.
The right mix of people for the best diversity, biggest and most wild ideas!
If you have a group of friends or acquaintances nearby, most are pretty open to helping out since it requires very little work and lots of fun to generate ideas. You can easily just invite them over for cocktail hour and mix up a few drinks, or do a session over coffee and continental breakfast.
If you have more than 5-6 people in the group, there are different approaches you can take to manage larger groups and still get the same results- think mini sessions!
The same guidelines apply from the individual approach to the group brainstorming.
How to set up a group brainstorming session:
- Best if you use big easel pads, either with the built-in cardboard stand or post-it type to hang on the walls or windows. You’ll want to have all the pages visible as you go through the session.
- Get a stack of post-its as well and hand out in advance to each person. Ask them to jot down an idea if someone else is talking so they don’t lose it waiting to speak
- Write down each of the questions or problems you’re trying to solve on separate pages. You’ll want to make sure you have markers handy to write down all the great ideas. Don’t try to fit every idea on one page, just add pages as you need them. It’s important for the group to read previous ideas as you go along since it might generate other ideas.
- Target about 20-30 minutes for the group to brainstorm ideas for each of the questions or problems.
- If you’ve set a target number of ideas, number each idea to keep the excitement as you grow the list!
- If you have trouble getting started and the group is shy to speak up, have a few questions to prompt the group or start off with an easy idea everyone might be thinking.
After 20-30 minutes move to the next question. If there is an idea for a previous question, write it down. This is where post-its come in handy so you can move it around.
You now have a ton of ideas to evaluate from a diverse group of people. It will likely include big ideas you never thought about or ones you did, but hearing it from someone else helps confirm it was a great idea! Plus the super easy ideas too.
If you have the opportunity to meet with the group again or work on it after the idea collection, group input can be really helpful with evaluating ease and value of each idea. They may eve have some great ‘nuggets’ on how to execute.
Once you get your ranking for ease and value, I’d suggest you start with the ideas that are easy and have a high value aka create a big impact. For those ideas you've ranked with a small value and difficult to do, cross them off the list since they just aren’t once worth spending time on.
If you've been part of a group brainstorm, what problem did you help solve?