Kraus Marketing in Morristown, Kessler Foundation in East Hanover, and Citrin Cooperman & Co. LLP in Livingston are three New Jersey businesses that have one thing common. Can you guess what it is?
All three belong to the list of New Jersey’s Best Places to Work 2020. Kraus Marketing is a small-sized business in the advertising/PR/marketing industry, Kessler Foundation is a mid-sized nonprofit organization, and Citrin Cooperman & Co. is a large accounting firm.
A major criteria for a company making the list is its level of employee engagement. Employees perform their best when they are motivated and encouraged to speak their minds. Nowhere is this seen more clearly than during meetings and brainstorming sessions.
Do you want your company to be one of New Jersey’s best in 2021 and beyond? Then consider improving how you conduct brainstorming sessions in your office.
What is brainstorming, and why is it important?
A brainstorming session is a focused meeting specifically conducted to generate innovative ideas. This is necessary when a group or team is stuck with long-term problems that seem to elude solutions.
But putting a group of people together in one room and asking them to come up with great ideas isn’t as easy as it sounds. Personal and group dynamics get in the way, criticism hampers idea generation, quantity doesn’t always equate to quality, and a lack of follow-through renders the whole session moot.
So how does one conduct a successful brainstorming session? You need to structure your meeting so that you can avoid or overcome the problems that often derail a brainstorming session.
How to manage a brainstorming session
Here are a few tips on how to manage a brainstorming session to ensure its success:
- Always assign a moderator
- Provide an agenda
- Avoid criticisms at the start
- Have an open mind
- Give yourselves a break
- Schedule post-session follow-ups
The moderator’s role is to manage the session by setting the right tone from the start, ensuring that everyone participates while no one monopolizes the meeting, and overseeing the generation of ideas. Having a good moderator goes a long way to ensure a successful session. But the moderator need not be the team manager or even the CEO; otherwise, most participants tend to not talk or only say what they think their bosses want to hear.
It’s stressful for participants if they don’t know what to expect in a meeting. So make it clear to them what your objectives are and what problem you aim to solve. Provide a schedule of events, including breaks, and establish the ground rules from the start. Not only will an agenda relax the participants, but it’ll also provide them benchmarks so they’ll feel confident that they’re making progress.
Whenever someone presents a new idea, people tend to immediately assess it, giving their honest opinion or gut reaction to the idea. Avoid that by making sure one of your ground rules is: “No criticisms during the idea generation stage.” This way, participants will trust each other and speak their mind without fear of ridicule.
Eventually, the group needs to decide which idea/s to pursue. This stage requires a critical assessment of all ideas. Remind the participants to be mature and not take things personally — emphasize that what's being discussed is the idea, not the person. And oftentimes, the final solution is a combination of two or more ideas generated.
The mind needs breaks in order to refresh itself and stay sharp. So always include breaks in the schedule. Better yet, allow participants to step out of the venue. A change of scenery helps clear the mind, while physical movement helps to stimulate it.
The best ideas are useless unless they’re executed. After the brainstorming session, make sure to establish clear, actionable next steps and put specific people in charge.
Having a company culture that values your employees’ inputs goes a long way for you to make it to the list of New Jersey’s Best Places To Work. But that’s not enough. You also need a well-managed IT network that increases your company’s productivity and efficiency.
If you want proactive managed IT services and intelligent solutions with a devoted service touch, partner with us at Online Computers. Our team of over 50 dedicated specialists will ensure you get to harness the power of technology while avoiding any downtimes. If your business is in or around the Hanover, Morristown, or Madison areas, contact our experts today.
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