One of the fatal flaws in old-fashioned brainstorming is a lack of diversity among the participants. It’s easy to simply invite your whole team to the session. Here’s the issue: employees are hired for their expertise and then trained to think along similar lines. They fit into an org chart with tight boundaries and are rewarded for staying within the lines of authority. These practices help the organization run smoothly.
The result: a group of people who basically clone each other. And clones usually don’t create breakthrough ideas.
I want to devote this blog to practical ways of solving the diversity problem. Of course, you’ll want to recruit outside your team to include employees from peripheral departments. In addition, there are at least three other types of people you should consider inviting to spice up the session.
I learned this from one of my “book mentors,” Doug Hall. Trained Brains are people who are: (1) naturally gifted at generating ideas and (2) outgoing enough to mix well with all kinds of people. I have had the pleasure of working with an amazing Trained Brain for 25 years. At Driven to Succeed, we have several Trained Brains who bring fresh perspectives to brainstorming sessions. One is Greg, who is a fountain of creativity, and whose natural enthusiasm and positive nature help other participants do their best work. Early in the session, I often turn to the Trained Brain’s dyad to start reporting ideas because our team models how to do it clearly and succinctly.
This is a great addition because these folks open up all kinds of new opportunities. Naïve Brains don’t know anything special about the category you are working in (they simply have the same general knowledge as the public at large). My very first session was on charcoal and the Naïve Brain came up with the best idea of the day. Another time, I was hired to ideate on shower gel. My very smart client, Fabienne, brought on several chefs who opened up brand-new flavor options (food to soap: brilliant). Another example: I led an ideation on Irish Spring that included a tour guide of the Emerald Isle.
The third possible component to consider is what I call Super Consumers. They participate in the category and are more creative than average. I always invite pairs of friends so the two feel more comfortable. Of course, we can recruit them and pay them well – usually $200-300 each – for attending. I treat Super Consumers exactly like every other person at the session. I start out pairing them together in the first dyad, but then mix the consumers up with other attendees.
When doing a large-scale brainstorming session, these three additions will add the needed spice and variety to stretch the boundaries of possibility.
If your company is ready to do some large-scale brainstorming, consider an experienced market research company, like Driven to Succeed, LLC, to facilitate a session. We'll help you stretch the boundaries of possibility and guide you toward a more effective approach. Contact us now to schedule a meeting and add some spice to your next brainstorming session.
Driven to Succeed is an award-winning global market research and consulting firm that compliments data (the “what”) with empathetic research and conversations (the “why”) to uncover actionable insights so mid-market companies and Fortune 500 brands can innovate and grow. Our team has walked a mile in your shoes with over 100 years of experience in Market Research, Marketing, and P&L Management for global iconic brands and startup companies across diverse B2B and B2C industries. Learn more at https://www.DriventoSucceedLLC.com.