In today’s business world, it’s often called brainstorming or focus groups; but I like the assembly line concept. It keeps thoughts moving forward and allows others to contribute to the success. Ideas only become reality when they are fleshed out. This can be especially useful when developing your story.
Begin with identifying what you are trying to solve. What problem or need does your business fix for your customers? Make sure you have a clear goal in mind.
Anytime you involve a group of people in the process, you need to make sure you have the scene set for success. Include appropriate stimulus- have music playing, food, inspiration pieces/magazines. All five senses should be stimulated. Use Play-Doh or Nerf balls so that tactile people can have something in their hands.
Use a watch box or device box. All iPhones, Droids, watches, etc… need to be collected and put away. You can set an alarm to know when your scheduled time is compete. That way people aren’t distracted and focused on the task. You’ll be surprised at how often your group will reach for a phone that isn’t there.
These sessions should last no more than 30 minutes and you should take breaks every 45 min. But no checking phones or emails in the breaks. Make them fun or do something active.
There are no “nos.” When you are initially making lists of ideas, do not say no to anything. It needs to be a safe place to express all ideas and everyone should feel a valued contributor. If anyone makes 3 no remarks, you need to remove them from the meeting. No is the easiest thing to say. (That includes: yes, but…we’ve always done it this way…and we don’t have).
Get at least 40 ideas down. Everything goes. Once you have those, break up into groups of 3-5 people. Now give the list to both groups and have them arrange the ideas into categories. These categories can be: things we can accomplish easily, things we love but just don’t know how to get there, if we combined this and this, etc… Discuss the “why” each idea was generated from. Still no nos.
Now come back together as a group. Compare your categories. Look at everything that can be accomplished easily. Why is it a benefit to the company? To the employees? Decide yes or no as a group- are you going to do it. Assign someone to be the point person in implementing it. Identify other employees who can help. Set a date. Do it.
Now look at the things we loved list. Take them one by one. Identify what need they fill. Talk about what you’d need to make it happen. Is it a budget? Is it a particular skill? Is it training? Now take that list and prioritize. Pick 5 that you’d like to implement. Pick a point person to develop a plan. Set a date to discuss the plan.
Now you have an action plan.
Remember, it’s a success even if you only have one good idea that comes from the meeting. And that success isn’t final until you’ve implemented the plan and motivated the people to participate.