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Brainstorming for one

Brainstorming is probably my favourite way of getting out of a rut and generating new ideas. It’s a key tool for leadership development in any setting.

But what do you do if you’re stuck on something and calling a meeting is neither appropriate or convenient?

One answer is to write exhaustive lists using brainstorming rules – suspend judgement and focus on quantity. ‘Brainstorming for one’, I call it.

What follows is an example of how you could use this technique to crack a common problem.

When we need to hire, we often get stuck on defining what we want in a new hire. Often, we play safe by sticking to what we’ve done in the past even when the business has changed over time.

The new way

1. Start writing lists including –

        • Everything the person will have to do to do this job well now
        • Everything they need to know before they start
        • Everything you want them to be while they work for you
        • Everything you are going to measure to assess their performance
        • All the ways this job will appeal to the right person

2. Keep adding to the lists (without judging or editing) until you can’t think of anything more

3. Keep your lists going for at least 24 hours. Your subconscious mind will generate further ideas while you’re doing other things, even sleeping!

4. When the ideas stop flowing, it’s finally time to edit:

  • Get rid of anything that’s unrealistic, such as ‘will bring me coffee without being asked’
  • Look for patterns. Items that appear several times on your lists must be important to you

5. Combine your lists to define both the role you are filling (your job description) and the person you want to fill it – which in turn gives you your recruitment method, ad wording and selection process.

What do you think?  Could this work for you?

I’d love to hear your experiences of using ‘brainstorming for one’.

About Susan Rochester

BSc MHRM FIML
Susan Rochester has been managing director of Balance at Work since 2006. Susan has a natural tendency to balance analytical thinking with an optimistic outlook to set direction and solve problems. She is an effective facilitator and constantly creates new and more effective ways of doing things, motivated by helping others to achieve their goals.

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