The biggest source of great ideas that we have as entrepreneurs is not ourselves, no matter how smart and creative we are. If you’re hiring the right people, then your team is a massive, potentially untapped, mine of creativity. All you need to do is know how to access that mine. Bringing your team together to create and innovate is not just a way to generate new ideas. It will also contribute to a feeling of cohesion and togetherness in the workplace. Additionally, it lets your team feel invested in the growth of your company.
Brainstorming is an exercise that is practiced by many companies. Either in the boardroom or with the whole team. But often it’s being done incorrectly, and this means that it’s ineffective. A common approach is to have people just throw out ideas and then other people can challenge them and see if they hold weight.
Often only the ‘good ideas’ are kept. This fundamentally misrepresents the point of the process. The point is to create an environment where ideas can be created and explored freely. In this environment, there should be no concept of a ‘bad idea’. That limits people and may make them disinclined to share, at the risk of being judged or deemed not smart enough.
In a proper brainstorming session, there is no filter. Sit your team down, give them a topic, and have them come up with ideas. Write them all up on a whiteboard or flipchart. Yes, even the obvious ones. Yes, even the ridiculous ones. It should also be made clear that criticism isn’t part of the process. There is no space for shooting down someone else’s ideas or debating them. This a process of generation, not validation.
Doing the brainstorming process correctly can be an invaluable source of ideas and innovation, and will make your team feel valued and empowered to boot. Done correctly, it will also help your team to bond and also feel fun and exciting.
Justin Cobb is an international entrepreneur, based in the US, with a network of companies spanning the globe.