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Brainstorming Event

 Stop, Pause, Retreat, Reflect



"Learn to pause . . .or nothing worthwhile will catch up to you.”   
Doug King

 Format: 3 hour session - 3 day event

Brainstorming has a tremendous bottom line impact. Investing in its implementation will pay off in both the short-term and long-term. The benefits are derived from its many functional applications.  Brainstorming can be used for:

  • The solution and prevention of problems,
  • A planning tool,
  • A mechanism for gathering intelligence,
  • An additional communication connection,
  • As a means to enhance personal satisfaction and organizational commitment.

 IS BRAINSTORMING FOR YOU AND YOUR ORGANIZATION?

You will find the Brainstorming Technique is an extremely helpful process for a variety of reasons. As a first step, assess your organizational and personal needs and goals. Answer the following questions with a "yes" or "no."  This will give you an idea how this technique fits into your plans. 

ORGANIZATIONAL ANALYSIS:  

  1. Is your organization feeling the impact of change?
  2. Do you want to identify and articulate the core values of your organization? 
  3. Are you beginning to feel uncomfortable with business as usual?
  4. Have you heard that if you are coasting you are going downhill and feel the pressure to start pedaling again? 
  5. Are you feeling the pressure to integrate innovations or reorganize to meet new challenges?
  6. Are you initiating quality control programs, and want a more participatory process for decision making and planning?
  7. Do you need to inaugurate a strategic planning initiative or revisit corporate goals and objectives? 
  8. Is there a need for policy and procedure revision? 
  9. Are you looking for ways to enhance employee retention and loyalty?

 PERSONAL ANALYSIS:  

    1. Are you interested in creating a legendary reputation for leadership? 
    2. Have you heard a great deal about the empowerment of individuals but are uncertain how to proceed?
    3. Are motivation and enhanced communication on your list of goals?
    4. Do you want to build a team and feel a more democratic, coaching style is preferable to a centralized, autocratic manner? 
    5. Are you looking for a way to tap into people's creativity? 
    6. Are you in need of information, advice and imaginative solutions to important organizational problems?

 If you answer any of these questions positively, you have found the procedure for your personal and organizational needs.

  PROFIT FROM A COMMITMENT TO BRAINSTORMING: A review of three important questions.  

1. Is your organization going through changes?  

As the globe spins faster and faster, there is a great deal of interest within organizations for ways to meet the challenge of change.  This has particular relevance today as the pace of change accelerates and organizations must adapt just to stay alive. Centuries ago, people would be likely to stay in the village of their birth, make their living doing what their family did for decades, integrate a few small innovations into their personal and professional lives and serenely adapt to minor, incremental changes.

Today, on the other hand, the person sitting just over the threshold of the 21st century must have the maneuvering ability and speed of a Ferrari. Education and training, mechanical modernization, operational redesigns and product innovations face obsolescence the moment they are implemented or introduced. Where our ancestors leisurely climbed the slight slope of change, we must take great leaps up the side of a cliff. We need methods to manage this demand. Brainstorming is just such a method.

 Both internal and external pressures make it imperative to just not react to economic, political, sociological, environmental and technological fluctuations but to proactively build changes into the strategic plan. Individuals and organizations not only have to cope with the challenges; they must embrace the opportunities. The Brainstorming Technique offers a formalized process for orchestrating the inevitable changes in a dynamic environment.

 2. Have you heard a great deal about managing in the new millennium and the importance of empowering individual employees? Are you uncertain how to implement this philosophy?

One critical component of empowering individuals is for organizational leadership to sincerely listen to their associates' concerns, opinions and recommendations. When these have been collected and recorded, the ideas are considered, modified, implemented, integrated with other programs, studied, placed on agendas and/or assigned to a task force. All these actions validate not only the suggestions, but the individuals who present them.  Self-esteem is enhanced when one’s idea is considered important and noteworthy.  When this idea is implemented it fuels passion, interest, excitement, loyalty, and motivation.

Employees having a part of themselves invested in a corporate decision have custody of that decision and a deeper sense of obligation to the organization. Ownership and obligation are powerful influencers of human behavior. Motivation that is only controlled from outside forces such as supervisory authority or corporate power leads to compliance. On the other hand, motivation that is self-directed leads to commitment and trust. Commitment, of course, is the better alternative from both the personal and organizational perspective. It lasts longer, is more powerful, feels better, is more humanizing, makes better use of resources and, in the end, is the most cost effective.  

Beyond sharing ownership and responsibility, when an idea is implemented, there is the possibility of shared success. Nothing succeeds like success and the personal power that comes from being a part of a productive enterprise can’t be measured. Add to this the energy and pride that accrues to the individual who originated the idea, contributed to the decision, or rendered an opinion and organizational motivation should not be a burdensome challenge. The feeling of personal potency and the surge of collective vitality can create an organizational disposition to achieve legendary status.

A few words of caution.  Unless the leadership sincerely intends to listen to the ideas generated during the brainstorming process and plans to seriously consider the proposed recommendations  and suggestions and deal with them in a candid, straightforward manner, management is better off not implementing this technique. People who participate in brainstorming sessions develop certain expectations; perhaps even hopeful anticipation. They don’t like to be asked their opinion and then have their responses disregarded or dismissed. Resentment can build when ideas are only embraced if they conform to a preordained agenda. This technique can only work in an open atmosphere with open minds and no hidden agendas.  Certainly, not every idea has to be implemented, but they all need to be written down, considered, and responded to accordingly. 

3. Are you looking for individual inventiveness, ingenuity and creativity?  

The only source of original thought is still the human brain. There is usually no lack of information or experience within the organization.  The challenge for the organization is tapping into this library of viewpoints and expertise and then processing it into a useful format.  Brainstorming offers people the opportunity to share, contribute and express ideas.  This can be a part of a general strategy to project a wonderfully enlightened atmosphere and can open the organizational climate. 

 As Brainstorming becomes commonplace, it will be absorbed into the culture of the organization. When it is part of the expected norm, it will become increasingly effective.  It will gain credibility and its application will become more automatic until people start brainstorming spontaneously wherever and whenever they  . . . in the break room, before and after meetings, in the elevator.

 BRAINSTORMING DEFINED

 Think of all the people in an organization as individual computers with a collective capacity for thinking, remembering and communicating. Each mind is filled with important data that can be valuable to organizational decision-making and problem solving.  One method for getting to the information, experience and judgment of the "collective mind" is the Brainstorming Technique.   Brainstorming is a professional operation and should be considered as much a part of doing work as delegation or performance evaluations.   

An important and exciting dimension of the technique is that everyone has the opportunity to get involved. This is a critical component for at least two reasons.  First, by combining everyone's experience and expertise, there will be a greater pool of information and ideas. Somewhere living in the minds of the work group may be the definitive answer to a complex question; a precise definition of a vexing organizational problem, an ideal solution to a departmental puzzle, a recommendation for enhanced quality or a success bound suggestion for improvement.

Secondly, in any organization reaching toward success in today’s work world, personal empowerment is considered essential for individual motivation and commitment. Participation enhances self-esteem and allows for shared goals. It is good organizational policy to involve everyone in matters important to the growth and survival of the organization.  Participatory management has become increasingly popular and today a more democratic leadership style is considered good business practice.  This method is a specific way in which organizational leadership can get everyone involved in the operation of the organization.

THE  BRAINSTORMING PROCESS:

The actual procedure is quite simple. It is an organized informational free-for-all with members of a group brainstorming opinions, viewpoints, ideas, suggestions and/or data. The group follows a process with established guidelines, but there should be an atmosphere of informal free-form.  The outcome will be a compilation of opinions and a medley of creative thoughts.

THE BRAINSTORMING EVENT: One to five days of facilitated activity

We will bring in professionals to train the individuals who will be involved on the process, the rules and the goals. Depending on the number of people you have participating in the event, one or more facilitators will lead the group in the actual brainstorming procedure. Depending on your goals and your organizational needs, the actual event can be one to five days.

 THE OUTCOME: A report

We will present your organization with the unedited results of the brainstorming event. All the ideas, suggestions, opinions and thoughts will be recorded, collated and provided in print form. In addition we will identify any patterns we see emerging and make appropriate recommendations.

The result will be a report that can be used in discussions, publications, planning, establishing priorities, articulating core values and developing strategic initiatives. Information is critical to problem solving, organizational development, corporate growth and decision making. Brainstorming is a valuable method for harvesting that information from one of your bests sources…the internal brain trust of your employees.

 

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