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Enlightened Leadership Blog | Supercharge Your Business: The Power of Brainstorming to Drive Innovation and Success | May 2024

Are you ready to propel your business to new heights of success? 

Before a recent brainstorming session, I reached for one of my “keeper” resources: Hal Gregersen’s March-April 2018 Harvard Business Review article, “Better Brainstorming Focus on questions, not answers, for breakthrough insights.”  The article is from 2018 but brainstorming for improvement never goes out of style. In today’s rapidly evolving, hyper-competitive world, staying ahead of the curve requires innovation, creativity, and strategic thinking. That’s where brainstorming comes in.

A revisit of the article reminded me just how relevant brainstorming is for collaborative-minded business leaders. I’m sharing some insights here to help you capture the power of brainstorming for your business. The concepts apply to functioning as a solo entrepreneur, leading a small team, or managing a large organization.

Understanding the Essence of Brainstorming

What exactly is brainstorming in a practical business sense?

At its core, brainstorming is more than just a gathering of minds—it’s a dynamic exchange that cultivates diverse perspectives and captures useful collective intelligence. By providing a platform for open dialogue and idea generation, brainstorming empowers teams to break free from stagnation or doubt and explore modern solutions. 

As a business owner, recognizing the significance of this process can be the catalyst for transformative growth and sustained success across all industries.

Embracing the Power of Questions

Effective brainstorming is not about finding quick fixes or shortcuts. It’s about asking and listening more than dictating and talking.

By shifting the focus from answers to inquiries, solo entrepreneurs, small team leaders, or large organization heads can explore possibilities, challenge assumptions, and uncover innovative solutions. 

Gregersen’s research underscores a fundamental idea: effective brainstorming begins with asking the right questions. By moving away from finding immediate solutions toward exploring deeper inquiries, the spotlight shines on approaches and remedies that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.

Let’s consider a scenario where a business is grappling with declining customer engagement. Instead of jumping straight to problem-solving mode, a well-facilitated brainstorming session might begin with thoughtful questions such as:

– What are the underlying reasons behind our customers’ disengagement?

– How can we redefine our value proposition to better resonate with their evolving needs?

– What innovative channels or technologies could we leverage to enhance our customer experience?

By viewing the problem from multiple angles and probing the underlying causes, teams can identify novel strategies to revitalize customer engagement and drive business growth. And if you’re a solopreneur you can accomplish this by tapping into your entrepreneurial network to help each other’s businesses through brainstorming or hiring a consultant to facilitate a session. 

Fostering Collaboration and Creativity

Brainstorming is more than just generating ideas. It’s about fostering collaboration and creativity among team members. It’s about creating a collaborative environment where voices are heard and valued. 

Gregersen emphasizes the importance of creating a psychologically safe environment where individuals feel comfortable sharing their ideas without fear of judgment. Whether you’re working with a small team or leading a large organization, nurturing a culture of openness and trust is essential to realizing the potential of brainstorming.

Think of brainstorming as the creative, collaborative catalyst for turning ideas into actionable strategies that drive tangible results. 

Turning Fresh Ideas into Action

Brainstorming sessions can be leveraged to inform critical decisions and shape organizational strategy across your company (it doesn’t matter how big or small).

The effectiveness of the process hinges on the mindsets and skillsets included. It is critical to unite stakeholders and subject matter experts. 

Let’s look at three examples:

Example 1: Your business is struggling to attract customers. By convening a brainstorming session with your marketing team, you can explore unique approaches to reach your target audience, from leveraging social media platforms to implementing targeted advertising campaigns. Through the collective intelligence of your team, you can develop creative solutions to address your business challenges and drive growth.

Example 2: Your business is facing a decline in customer satisfaction. By holding a brainstorming meeting with your customer service team, you can review unusual ways to address the issue, from improving communication channels to implementing advanced service protocols. 

Example 3:  Your company is contemplating entry into a new market segment. Through a structured brainstorming process, involving key stakeholders across departments, you can gain invaluable insights into market dynamics, competitive landscapes, and potential risks and opportunities. This cross-functional insight enables informed decision-making and empowers the business to devise a robust market entry strategy that maximizes success.

In all three cases, the resulting recommendations may not have occurred without gathering the right mix of folks to brainstorm together.

Implementing Brainstorming Sessions

Whether you choose to facilitate sessions yourself or enlist the help of a consultant, create a structured process that encourages participation and creativity. Here are six tips:

1. Set clear objectives: Define the goals of the brainstorming session and communicate them to participants beforehand. The only agenda item is targeted brainstorming.

2. Create a supportive environment: Foster a culture of openness and trust where all ideas are welcome and encouraged.

3. Encourage diverse perspectives: Invite team members from various departments and backgrounds to bring fresh insights to the table.

4. Use visual aids: Utilize tools such as whiteboards or sticky notes to capture ideas and facilitate discussion.

5. Decide next steps: Ensure that ideas generated during the brainstorming session and resulting recommendations are documented and action items decided. 

6. Follow-up: Follow-up and follow-through is critical to the sustainable implementation of proposed solutions.

Getting Started Today

How can you begin implementing brainstorming sessions in your organizations? 

Dedicate time to asking questions. You could organize a weekly team meeting, quarterly strategy session, or impromptu brainstorming meeting.

Here are some questions to spark creativity and innovation in your next brainstorming session:

1. What are the biggest challenges facing our business right now?

2. How can we differentiate ourselves from our competitors?

3. What emerging trends or technologies could disrupt our industry?

4. How can we better serve our customers and meet their evolving needs?

5. What opportunities exist for expansion or diversification?

Remember, brainstorming is not a one-time event—it’s an ongoing process that requires commitment and dedication. 

Ignite Innovation in Your Business Now

By embracing this collaborative practice and prioritizing questions over answers, you can drive success in your business. Brainstorming is a powerful tool that can help you overcome challenges, seize opportunities, and achieve your business goals. So, what are you waiting for? Start brainstorming today.

By Jennifer Musser 

Do you want more tips to boost your business? Visit JLM & Associates Consulting ( Sign up at the bottom of any page to join our email list.