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Post Brainstorming Assignments!

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Post Brainstorming Assignments

Brainstorming is an indispensible tool to generate ideas to improve processes or find innovative solutions to any problems. It helps you surface the individual ideas and provides a platform to get their ideas expressed and valued. However, you need to follow certain guidelines after a brainstorming session to make it successful. You must not forget that handling post session developments is as crucial as handling the actual session. Now that you have a large pool of raw ideas, the responsibility rests with you to develop them into a concept and implement it.

Here are a few tips that can help you in the post session deliberations:

Organize your Ideas: Place your ideas in the brainstorming session into an Excel worksheet and publish them at a place accessible by everyone. Club the related ideas into groups and title each group.

Form a Group to Analyze the Ideas: Ensure that the analyzing group has members who participated in the session and who will implement the ideas. Then, they can have a better view on the feasibility of the idea(s). Apply tools such as the Prioritization Matrix or the Six Hats method to rate your ideas on the basis of their feasibility.

Be Objective in your Analysis: Personal likes and dislikes should not play a part in rejecting or putting off an idea. There should be a valid objective criterion such as:

  • It is not practical
  • It is not legal or ethical
  • It is beyond the fixed budget
  • It requires further investigation or analysis

Keep the Participants Informed: If people are not put in the picture, chances are that they may ignore or treat it as a “waste-of-time” activity. Instead, keep them informed of the status of the post-session analysis of the ideas. Wherever necessary, involve them in the implementation process. This creates a sense of seriousness in them and they feel valued. This is where your leadership and managerial skills come into play.

Reward the Participants: Appreciate your participants for the valuable ideas they contribute. Give them certifications, monetary benefits or a lunch out package for this encourages them to participate in future sessions with zeal.

Do share your thoughts on the same.

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  • Michael J. Spangle

    This is a most interesting article. I especially like the way it encourages buy-in from the participants. In the training work that I have done, requesting feedback from the trainees has been an expectation. Often this is difficult to do because there is a perception that “It doesn’t matter because no one listens anyway. Besides, nothing ever changes.” One of the challenges then is to show a direct connection between their feedback and an on-going improvement in the quality of the training. The methods outlined in the article for getting maximum participation in the brainstorming process and what I have found to be effective in encouraging feedback are very much the same.

  • Gennady Belyukin

    Very good article. I think it is important not to stop the innovation activity after the first set of actions like brainstorming-discussion-implementation, but to make it cyclic. Some complex problems can not be solved in one shot. So it’s crucial to be persistent. Next brainstorming session can review the results of previous sessions and efforts done, highlight main achievements, assess problems and lessons, and point out new approaches to consider. I think this is how the learning within organization works.

  • Michael J. Spangle

    You make a good point, Gennady. Continuous improvement requires continuous review of your progress. It also requires ongoing adjustments to your actions/attitudes so that learning takes place and mistakes are not repeated.

  • I like to apply ‘Silent Consensus’ to sort out the best ideas. I’m aware it’s just a small step and you need more implementation steps afterwards but here’s how it works. During the brainstorm I ask participants to write down their ideas on paper cards (A4 format in EU and in landscape) and tape them ona overview wall. Sometimes I do the writing and taping as facilitator. Then after brainstorming the silent consensus part comes in. Every member has the opportuniy to reshuffle the ideas on the cards. Starting with the best item on the left or top of the wall and followed by the next best item etcetera. With the ideas on cards with tape it’s an eaasy job. Everybody is allowed to reshuffle and replace cards also cards that were placed in a specific position by a colleague WITHOUT TALKING OR DISCUSSION! In this process some kind of natural top 5 or top 10 develops. Sometimes the proces focusses on two persons with two different ideas who keep changing these cards. Then I create a time-out and ask these two persons to give a short explanation of their choise (without discussing) Then they (and all the others) get some addiotional time to reshuffle. As a facilitator you can steer the proces by giving a timeframe. As facilitator you should also be aware that every members feels free to join. It depends a bit on the subject and the politics if this form is applicable but it can save quit some time!

  • Hi and thanks for the invitation to respond to this thread on brainstorming. I actually just expanded on this idea on my own blog, so I will share the two posts here, adding some transitions. I hope you like the ideas and more than that, find them useful! I will post two comments, with the second building on the first…

    Let’s start with the concept of:

    “Nobody ever washes a rental car!”

    If one is to expect anything to happen after any training, they must insure that there is buy-in and participation and engagement. One often hears, responding to Michael’s post, that we need to “empower” the participants go actually go out and do something. Well, I strongly disagree with that.

    I believe that there are many many opportunities for workplace improvement among individuals and among small groups. There is also some general motivation to make improvements if people see a gap between what happens now and what could or should be happening. Cognitive Dissonance is but one framework that supports this idea of intrinsic motivation for improvement.

    But in the workplace in general, and especially in today’s risk-averse and “job enhanced” environments, the real key to rolling forward is not something like feedback or empowerment; I think it is Dis-Un-Empowerment that needs to be addressed.

    Most of us make choices all through the day as to what we will do or not do. Often, we choose NOT to do something because we perceive roadblocks (example: “He won’t support that idea because he did not support the last idea I had…”). Most people can think of LOTS of things that would get in the way of implementing some idea or ideas for improvement (“It might be against policy.” “There probably won’t be any support / resources for that.”)

    One key role of training (and management and coaching) is to act to REMOVE the perceived or potential roadblocks that are un-empowering to people acting individually or in groups. That can be accomplished by getting pre-ordained support from managers not in the workshop, having managers come into the training session to hear the ideas and manage the roadblocks (and have THEIR roadblocks managed – many managers are more roadblocked than their people!) and for the trainer to have a very good background understanding of what can be done and how it can be accomplishes.

    One of the things we miss today are trainers with the extensive background in how to implement and measure the effectiveness of the training when it comes to workplace improvement. There are lots of factors operating there, which can be one of the reasons that outside consultants can often get things accomplished when inside ones cannot — they have the power of money and support behind them.

    Knowing how the most success PAST improvements were implemented can often share insight into how the next FUTURE improvement might be implemented. There are cultural keys that offer perspective on these kinds of things.

    Creating a gap between how things are now (Square Wheels thumping and bumping along) and how things could be operating (Round Wheels already exist) and defining an implementation strategy for making small and continuous changes and improvements often makes change and improvement very doable.

    brainstorming and implementation
    But the key is that feeling of ownership involvement. Too many people “rent” their time to an organization and go through the motions of keeping employment, rather than buying in to improve workplace improvement these days. The statistics on engagement and on “ready to leave for a new job elsewhere” are pretty discouraging…

    After all, how many of the readers are ready to jump ship? How many are brainstorming new ideas to start businesses or be more marketable?

    You can find my blog, with illustrations, at http://www.performancemanagementcompany.com/blog-0/

  • Here is what I wrote in a response by another contributor:

    I like Ger’s “Silent Consensus” approach. Funny, though, in that I cannot imagine ME being that silent for that long!!

    I do a similar thing with “Dot Voting,” where I give each person 3 or 4 (depending on group size) colored sticky dots and have them vote on pasted up easel pad sheets of an issue (and later, some ideas for resolving that issue). So, each person has three Red Dots, for example, and they are to vote their dots (all 3 on one, one on each of three, whatever) for the Most Important Issue, say. The only rule is that they cannot vote on their own work.

    We might then vote with three Yellow Dots on those issues that are “the most political or culturally difficult” or some such framework.

    We might vote Green Dots on the issues that have the Most Profit Potential or Blue Dots on those that are The Most Important. My only strategy is to use different dots and have the color be somewhat meaningful in a natural way. The categories might be anything.

    Dot Voting for Employee Engagement and Consensus

    My session focuses are generally on innovation (Square Wheels as how things are and Round Wheels as to ideas for improvement) or on teamwork and collaboration or leadership or motivation. I do an exercise on Roadblock Management where I focus on dis-un-empowerment — identifying the different roadblocks that might exist knowing that the top performers are roadblocked less and use different strategies for dealing with them than those used by below-average performers. (Note: remember that half the people in the group will actually be “below average performers” – technically it is “median” but average is the common vernacular.)

    One can use colored dot voting for identifying the Main Most Difficult Structural Roadblocks (red ones) down to the ones that people (mistakenly) believe to get in the way of action (pink dots).

    It is the same basic idea as Ger’s. I just use a technique of “anonymous forced browsing” and add it to my consensus-building work. Visually, one sees which ones get votes and which ones do not get much support. Thus, One Person’s Main Bug will show itself as “not too important to the whole group” if it gets few or no votes. That (negative) peer pressure is useful in moving things more midstream…

    My technique also forces everyone to participate in the voting.

    Engagement of ideas

    After all, “Nobody ever washes a rental car,” and getting people involved and engaged is a main theme of really helping ideas get implemented and acted upon.

    Hoorah for Ownership!

    ——-

    The technique is flexible and easily used and works seamlessly. It is fast and something that I sometimes use as part of the group break – they can head out immediately if they need to and vote on their return or they can vote and then get coffee or whatever. All one needs is a list from each tabletop that requires some reaction from the participants. It really helps alignment, too.

    And if you want to see some of these simple tools, please visit us at http://www.performancemanagementcompany.com

    And I am coming to Mumbai on December 10 to get ready to deliver a full day team building event at the ITC Grand Maratha Hotel, using our Square Wheels tools and playing my team building exercise, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. This is my very first trip to India, so I am VERY excited about it. Go to http://www.eduriser.com for more information.