13 Apr Brainstorming with your Employees
If you don’t encourage brainstorming with your employees, you just might be missing an opportunity to take your business from zero to hero!
No one person, business owner, manager, or supervisor has a mortgage on knowledge. A business may have 25 employees – what an opportunity with 25 fantastic, creative, qualified, skilled, and (life) experienced minds to tap into!
How often does this happen in your business?
The 2015 Health and Safety at Work Act firmly sets out that all businesses must involve their staff in the planning, management, and implementation of health and safety practices. But why only apply this compliance requirement to health and safety? Why not apply this to all your business activities to achieve that hero status?
The brainstorming process has been around for a long time, but unfortunately if not managed properly, can develop into a fault finding session. If this starts to happens, stop the meeting and bring the group back to the purpose of the session and focus of this.
Preparing for the session
- Establish the purpose of the session and ensure that all present understand this.
- Be prepared to write down the ideas on a whiteboard.
- Set the ground rules and ensure that all involved understand the rules. The session is about creating thoughts, ideas, and making progress – personalities don’t come into it.
- Provide quiet time for the group to individually have time to think about the issue and generate ideas by themselves. Maybe even forewarn the group of the issue to be brainstormed.
As the facilitator of any brainstorming session, be aware that it is organised, but not to the extent to inhibit free and creative thinking. To have success, there are a number of basic rules to follow. If necessary, post these rules for all to see.
- No criticism or judgement is allowed – regardless how crazy an idea may be. You never know where a good idea is going to come from.
- Encourage wild ideas. Wild ideas can often give rise to creative leaps – there are no silly ideas.
- Build on the ideas of others, piggy back, and then expand the idea. Stay focused on the topic.
- One person at a time, but rapid firing of ideas is encouraged.
- Be visual. Write up the ideas, use post it notes, make it a physical and tactile event.
- Go for quantity not quality, the more ideas the better, the wilder the ideas even better.
Following the brainstorming with your employees session
The ideas board is going to be full of ideas, and now comes the interesting part.
- Reiterate the purpose of the session.
- The group is then given time to sit back and take time to reflect on what they see in front of them.
- From the group, establish 3-5 key priority groups from their input.
- This is where post it notes come into play – input from the group input, and shift these around to fit the priority group that they best fit.
An idea is to then take a photo of the board and send a copy to all the team members for them to have time to consider the top priority for action.
After the ideas have been prioritised for action, it is vital that those who have contributed to the brainstorm process are involved in the development and implementation of the improvement ideas.
I once heard Sir Richard Hadlee say that in order to get motivation, commitment, and involvement, its important to get some runs on the scoreboard. The runs may be small, but they are the start for greater things to come. Tackle a number of smaller ideas, complete them, celebrate the success, then move on to the next.
When you are implementing your ideas, make sure to follow the PDCA cycle – a great way to ensure success!
We’d love to hear how your brainstorming with your employees sessions go!
Please contact us if you would like to discuss.