A Failure to Brainstorm Effectively

August 1, 2010


If you want innovation, organizations often turn to brainstorming sessions. Unfortunately, most brainstorming sessions don’t work, according to the Idea Champions blog.

It’s not because brainstorming, as a process, doesn’t work—it’s because companies usually do a poor job conducting brainstorming sessions.

For example, consider these 10 most common reasons why brainstorming sessions fizzle:

  1. Poor facilitation;
  2. Wrong (or poorly articulated) topic;
  3. Unmotivated participants;
  4. No transitionfrom “business as usual”;
  5. Insufficient diversity of participants;
  6. Inadequate orientation;
  7. Lack of clear ground rules;
  8. Sterile meeting space;
  9. Hidden (or competing) agendas; and
  10. Lack of robust participation.

So if that sounds like your credit union’s brainstorming session, how can you turn things around? The Idea Champions blog offers these tips:

  • Find, train, or hire a skilled facilitator.
  • Focuson the right challenge.
  •  Invite people who really care about the topic.
  •  Invite people with diverse points of view.
  • Spend time clarifying the “current reality.”
  • Start with a fun icebreaker to help change participants’ mindset.
  • Ask participants to establish clear meeting ground rules.
  • Design (or find) a more inspiring meeting space.
  • Establish alignment on session goals.
  • Find ways to engage the least verbal participants.
  • Establish “deep listening” as a ground rule. Model it.
  • Invite participants to name classic idea-killing statements.
  • Collect all PDAs/cell phones. Establish a “no e-mail” ground rule to eliminate distractions.
  •  Ask people to leave their titles at the door.
  • Start with divergent thinking. End with convergent thinking.



THINK About It—and Win!

What’s your idea on how to grow the credit union movement?

Share it and you might win the Co-op Financial Services’ inaugural THINK Prize, worth $10,000.

The contest proceeds in three rounds. The first round is a questionnaire that asks you to describe your idea and how it:

•  Benefitscredit unions;

•  Benefitsmembers;

•  Exemplifiescredit union values; and

•  Willpropelthe credit union movement forward.

If you make it to the second round, get ready to develop a business plan for your idea. And if you’re one of the three third-round finalists, you’ll present your idea at the Co-op Financial Services THINK 2011 Conference in May 2011 in Anaheim, Calif.

Conference attendees, online viewers, and a panel of experts from Co-op Financial Services and the Filene Research Institute will determine the winner.

The first-round deadline is Oct. 15.