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Archive for power brainstorming

What if Someone Asks for Your Help With a Problem They are Having?

When an employee, family member, or friend brings you problem they are facing, how can you tell if they want solutions from you or for you to just listen?

Ask them.

Also if they are looking for a solution, ask first what they have tried or thought they could try. Get them thinking first.

Then if it does come down to offering your ideas, offer options, plural, so they can choose, and make it clear that these are ideas that if they choose something different you won’t be hurt. The choice is still their own.

The power of sincere questions

Questions are a sign of intelligence, of interest, of curiosity, of caring about the other person and the topic, and of being a critical thinker. Can you think of anything else you can say that is this powerful?

Questions, to be able to drink in that power, must be paired with power listening.

Once you ask that question, it is essential that you become silent, wait for and pay attention to the answer.

Some people try to answer their own questions. Some think that the other person pausing to think before answering means they don’t know what to answer.

Just like asking the question is a sign of interest in the other person, waiting and paying attention to the answer is a sign of respect.

Making Decisions With Too Much Data

Making decisions with too much data is just as difficult and risky as making a decision with too little data.

There are ways to be logical and move forward in either case.

With too little data, you may want to step back and list or mind map the missing pieces. Which of them are critical, which, if known, would lead to very different answers, which can be discovered before moving on, and which would have little impact and are not worth pursuing. Then you can seek out or make estimates on the missing data noting, as you move forward, what needs a comment or footnote.

With too much data, again you may want to organize what you have into categories, perhaps with sticky notes you can cluster on a board or on a mind map. It’s important to be able to see the big picture all at one time. Then you can highlight, circle or bring to the forefront, the groups that will impact results the most. The others can go on an imaginary parking lot or into the background so you can focus on the most important without distractions.

In neither case, too much or too little data, do you want to feel so stuck that nothing happens. Doing nothing is a decision, too, but one that happens to you instead of by you.

Business Meetings

Your Business Meetings

Even if your company is working hard on inclusiveness and diversity, it is important to pay attention to how you get everyone equal ‘floor time’ in the meeting. How do you do that?

One way is to use silent and anonymous idea generation. Hand out a pile of sticky note paper or 3×5 cards. Challenge everyone to come up with a minimum of 5 ways to solve a problem you’ve been working on or a new way to market a declining product. No talking and no sharing during this initial thinking and writing time.

Then all ideas get put up equally on a flip chart or white board. Organize by categories or similarity.

All ideas are valuable, some will work on their own. Most will work better in combination with others on the board. Some can be expanded by discussion.

You may decide to organize the ideas by how long they would take to do a trial or to implement in general, or by cost, effort, or ROI. You may even decide to try out the most outrageous first because standing out is better than blending in and being boring.

Mental Models for better & easier solutions

Mental models
Why do some people find ‘simple’ mathematics problems so impossible. I used common fractions for my research but it wouldn’t matter which specific concept I had chosen.
The answer I discovered and proved was that children and adults alike, who had a mental model of the concept, could solve the math problems. Those who didn’t were using rote rules that had no meaning, no models in their mind, so they made mistakes or gave up. They often could follow the rules successfully as long as the next problem looked exactly like the last one. If presented a problem that looked different, they couldn’t picture how to modify the rules, they couldn’t see where or how it matched up to the last one or something they had seen before.
Mental models are built by drawing, building with objects, and imagining.
One type of mental model that can help with thinking clearly and making strong decisions is the mind map. It helps you brainstorm lots of options and then it organizes those options for consideration.

Idea Generation instead of Brainstorming

The word brainstorming has gotten a bad rap from some who write on the www. The problem they seem to have is that their experiences with the subject have been the antithesis of purposeful brainstorming.

So I propose to use ‘idea generation’ instead of brainstorming. That is the purpose of most brainstorming sessions any way.

A good idea generation session has a clear goal but also leaves lots of room for playing around with ideas and exploring several different avenues that turn up.

A good idea generation session also will produce some ideas and directions that seem immediately applicable while others should be put in the parking lot to be reintroduced and explored at a next meeting.

Another book very soon

As you all know, my last book was Power Brainstorming.  I wrote it because brainstorming has been maligned as a result of being done incorrectly.  Poor results from poor methods made many people blame the brainstorming process itself.  As I often tell my friends and family complying about a product or process, more often than not it is “user error” not the product itself.  Power Brainstorming, the book, and the trademarked method, is meant to help you avoid user error and be very successful when you need to brainstorm.

Now I am about to bring out my next book.  This one focuses on the more general topics of decision making, critical and creative thinking.  Business, Brains, and BS is a business mystery that intrigues and piques your interest and curiosity while you observe decision making in a growing business.  It’s not just a fun book too read, it’s easy to swallow lessons in thinking better and clearer.

 

How do you brainstorm?

I’d love to receive comments as I am starting up this blog. What techniques do you use to brainstrom? How often do you do brainstorming?

Ask powerful questions

Powerful questions are ones that dig deeper into a subject and bring up interesting ideas and options.  Avoid asking questions that you know the answer as if you are testing someone to see if they know the answer you have in your head.  There is no new information, ideas or combinations when you are just testing them.  Powerful questions are open ended so that the person answering is free to take the subject in a new direction.

Add the power to brainstorming so that it works

The call for brainstorming happens thousands of times a day, all over the world, and especially in business environments.  Why?  Because to come up with good solutions, better ideas, more effective methods and innovation you want to start with options.  First, before making a decision, you need to know about what choices you have and then to compare them.  Sometimes this process, of necessity, takes place in a few seconds.  Sometimes it requires collection of data or opinions that take a long time.  In any case, more options to compare and you will come up with a better thought out solution, and a better explanation or defense of that solution if asked.