3 Ways to Brainstorm and Reserve The Right To Tell Someone Their Idea Sucks….

If you’re responsible for leading a team through change, you ultimately need ideas about what you should do given challenges your company or team are going through.

That means you’re going to ask for ideas – usually in the space most often described as brainstorming.

When we lead our teams through brainstorming, we like to say “there are no bad ideas“.

Of course, that’s wrong.  Often times, most of the ideas aren’t great, and a few suck.

Which begs the question:

“How do you lead a team through brainstorming and keep your ability to tell people their idea IS NOT A GOOD ONE?”

That’s hard, right?  Here’s my list of 3 ways to do this:

  1. Do a better job of describing the problem/issue and providing a couple of key features the right solution will deliver. This one’s on you. You not only need to define what the problem is, you need to define the pain that problem causes, which allows you to provide simple features any solution has to deliver.
  2. Put all ideas on a visual medium.  It’s called peer pressure.  If you know your idea is a throwaway, you’re less likely to give us a half-baked thought before you flesh it out a bit. Team members that go through a second and third level self-evaluation on any initial idea (often times in under 1 minute!) before sharing provide better ideas and don’t hijack the groups.  Putting the ideas on a visual space creates the pressure you need for people to troubleshoot their own ideas for a minute before sharing.
  3. Use a form of Idea Evaluator to guide the team through an assessment of ideas.  I didn’t create this, I’ve seen in multiple places.  Use a evaluation space to talk about the Cost vs. Value each idea provides.  Guide a process where the team – rather than you alone – evaluates each idea and places it on the right spot on the X vs Y of Cost vs Value.  Let the team do the work of evaluating the idea and putting it in the “unlikely to be implemented” category.

You don’t have to be the bad guy/gal when it comes to telling someone their idea is average at best.  Define the problem deeper (most of us aren’t good at this), make the brainstorming process visual (most of us do this part), then use a Cost/Value chart to guide the team in a conversation to identify the best ideas.

Brainstorming on problems is good. You being Darth Vader and killing the ideas/hope of someone on your team alone is bad.  Broaden your approach and make your stormtroopers evaluate the ideas of their peers.

May the force be with you, my dark prince/princess. 

This post originally appeared on The HR Capitalist
Author: Kris Dunn