Brainstorming. When was the last time you gathered with a group of colleagues and asked them to spontaneously offer ideas for invigorating your sales outreach? Or when did you last mull over ideas solo in an effort to solve a problem with your customer service operations? Brainstorming, done with a group or solo, is a terrific business tool. How often do you make use of it?
In Good Selling!TM: The Basics, Paul H. Green endorsed brainstorming, stating, "Stimulate sales by jumpstarting your creative thinking process. Think of new and different ways to solve old problems without worrying about how practical they are for the moment. Write them down, no matter how silly they may seem. Later, expand each idea into several more. When this process is complete, you can switch to practical thinking to edit and reformulate the list."
Green also advised avoiding negative thinking patterns that dismiss ideas outright or lead directly to worst-case scenarios. "Allow your mind to indulge a little in the answers that emerge. You may discover some new strategies for dealing with challenges you face every day. Share your discoveries with your co-workers. New ideas are often springboards to creativity."
A new environment can enhance brainstorming. Rather than meeting with your team in the office, try gathering in a coffee shop, a park if the weather's mild, or perhaps a colleague's home.
Design Shack, http:designshack.net, offered several additional hints for successful brainstorming. Among them were to have a moderator to ensure the discussion establishes and maintains a positive direction, set goals for clarity, and establish a time limit to keep the meeting short and vibrant. According to Design Shack, goals should be specific and attainable rather than vague and overarching; for example, establishing the best website ever is too broad, but coming up with 10 possible ways to improve a home page's user interface is specific and doable.
Mind Tools,www.mindtools.com, stated that several studies found that individual brainstorming "produces more – and often better – ideas than group brainstorming" because "groups aren't always strict in following the rules of brainstorming, and bad behaviors creep in." Also people can become so absorbed and influenced by others in the group that by the time it's their turn to speak, they've lost track of their own ideas. Encourage creativity Some suggested alternatives for productive group brainstorming are to create a document in the cloud and invite people to share their ideas there; have attendees at meetings write down their ideas before voicing them; or go around the group systematically, giving each attendee a chance to speak without interruption. The latter may, however, inhibit spontaneity, but it can help draw out shyer members of the group.
Brainstorming about potential obstacles within the industry is one of the keys to success in payments, according to Green. "Stay abreast of potential changes, and formulate plans ahead of time," he wrote. "Often, being the first one with a solution means getting the account."
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