In Part One of this blog, we discussed how facilitators can realize more value from team brainstorm meetings by:
- Doing their “homework” ahead of time, and
- Using good facilitation techniques.
(Click here to read Part One)
Part Two of this blog will discuss how facilitators should:
- Not settle for just a “list of ideas”, and
- Follow through afterwards on meeting objectives.
Do not settle with a list, take it further!
There are several exercises you can try with teams to invoke new ideas or ideas that complement or deepen what others have already shared.
For example, start with one person communicating their idea with the group and keep going around the room, letting each team member voice their idea until the team runs out of ideas and/or comments. This is fruitful because we generate new ideas in our minds while listening to the ideas of others.
If the team is stuck, try asking the question a different way.
- What would happen if we tried to make the problem worse? Why, exactly, is that an issue? And so, what could we do to avoid that issue or the events/scenarios leading up to that issue?
- How would an idealist or pessimist respond? / How would an extrovert or introvert respond?
- What would a colleague from a different department (i.e. Marketing, Manufacturing, or Finance, etc.) do to solve this problem?
- How would your customers feel about this solution? How would they solve the issue?
Ensure that side comments and questions are not missed by assigning a member of the team to take copious notes, and rotate this task from meeting to meeting. This is an important role during the meeting and follow-up deliverable after the meeting. Ideas that are not documented will most likely be forgotten.
Follow through, be proactive!
While the team is present and energy levels are high, assign individual team members to take accountability for the different follow-up actions identified during the meeting. Have each action item owner define and commit to a completion date. As a facilitator, you can decide the best way to follow-up with each action item owner, e.g. team meetings, one-on-one discussions, task management tools.
There are several ways to assist the team in progressing the project after the brainstorming meeting. For example, for each question asked, group similar responses and ideas together and into categories. Send a follow-up presentation or memo within 1-2 business days after the meeting, describing the key discussions and themes, main ideas, and action items. Describe what follows next and how the team’s ideas will be used and by whom. Team members that understand how their actions and ideas fit within the broader context and goals of the project are more likely to follow through on commitments.
Wrap-up of Part Two
As a recap, facilitating value-added brainstorming meetings is a wonderful challenge to accept. I hope these blogs have helped prepare you, and I look forward to your feedback. What examples worked or did not work? How can Keystone Scientific help your team, either in brainstorming meetings, project review meetings, or strategy-forming workshops? Please share your suggestions!