Brainstorming tips for your startup
Brainstorming sessions are an essential tool for any startup to stimulate ideas amongst employees and create buy-in to a new concept. But have you noticed your sessions becoming...
Brainstorming sessions are an essential tool for any startup to stimulate ideas amongst employees and create buy-in to a new concept. But have you noticed your sessions becoming repetitive with a decrease in motivation and creativity as the session carries on? This decrease in productivity can reflect in both your team’s work ethic and can result in a decline in your company’s success and innovation.
Below, we’ve provided our best brainstorming tips for your startup if you want to reinvigorate the idea-generation process.
Initially, when you’re brainstorming new ideas for your startup, the “why” may seem like it’s common sense and doesn’t need to be spelled out. Everyone should know the reason for the brainstorming session. However, asking this with your team throughout the brainstorm process can be highly beneficial and make sure everyone is on the same page with their ideation.
When asking the question “why,” you should begin with a generalization of the problem or idea everyone is trying to solve. Once that has been discussed and there is group buy-in, move on to the question of “why does this happen,” which stimulates conversation and increases creativity amongst your team members. As the answer takes shape within your brainstorming discussion, the solution you’re working toward can change.
For example, let’s say your company’s goal is to help motivate employees to work out. You might start by asking, “why aren’t people motivated to work out?” and determine there can be a lack of time or resources to allocate toward working out. Next, ask yourselves, “why is there a lack of time or resources?” Perhaps you’ll settle on the answer that people have busy schedules and gym memberships can be expensive, which leads you to solve for a need for quick workouts that are affordable. Constantly asking “why” and digging deeper into the problem can lead to solutions that will help a broader amount of people, which in return leads to more customer traffic and an increase in revenue.
Startups are known for being innovative and disruptive, so you know the pressure to stay on top of trends and anticipate what’s next. Frequent discussion and collaboration within your startup teams can help you think through what a competitor might be doing to solve different problems of your target market or anticipate new ones, thus keeping you ahead of the competition and capture the attention of outsiders like potential customers and the media.
To facilitate this kind of environment during a brainstorming session, allow everyone to pitch in ideas. Once you’re settled on the “why” you’re answering, allow a period of time where no idea is a bad one. Even if an idea seems like it’s something your company wouldn’t use in the short term, consider adding it to a “parking lot” of ideas to revisit as future concepts and innovations arise.
Also consider ways to allow for employees of different ages and tenure to contribute equally when brainstorming. Younger members of your team might add ideas for technology or style based on their digital-native background, or add context to a trend which feels foreign to more senior members of the company. You might try allowing your Millennial or Gen Z team members to lead the conversation for one brainstorm session to see how things differ from your usual workflow. Although they have fewer years of experience than someone who has worked 20 years in your industry, one strength they may have is a fresh perspective.
Brainstorming sessions take a lot of energy. Constantly pitching in new ideas can be draining and hinders the creative process. Studies show that on average we can concentrate for about 90 minutes until we need a 15-minute break. Other studies indicate that even taking micro-breaks for a couple of seconds can help refresh your mind. Apply this thinking to your brainstorming sessions to provide optimal results.
It’s normal to immediately seek feedback from your peers on the new ideas you shared in a brainstorming session. It’s good to get more insight on what you should or shouldn’t improve. However, sometimes sharing your ideas too soon can cause some issues.
Constructive criticism allows room for growth and navigates new perspectives for your ideas. Nonetheless, from time to time feedback can be discouraging. If you’re excited about a new idea you’ve come up with, give yourself and your team some time to process it before you meet again to take action. After a brainstorming session, encourage the team to process the ideas that were shared and identify strengths and weaknesses of each for further discussion later. The ideas to solve for your “why” and provide fresh perspectives and innovations will naturally rise to the top and your team will experience more unity and less friction once they’ve had time to think and then return to those brainstorming items.
About Michelle Vernaza: Michelle is a Business Development Associate Intern for Swyft, which is a tech PR firm in Austin and Houston and a top digital marketing and PR agency in Denver since its founding in 2011. Swyft recently opened a satellite office where it offers tech PR in San Francisco. Swyft was also listed as one of the top tech PR agencies in Texas by the B2B services review site, Clutch.co.