After a brainstorm, cultivate the idea garden
What do you do with the 50 ideas you have written on the whiteboard?
One of the most common methods of solving problems is by brainstorming
solutions—listing every possible solution you can think of, regardless
of the quality of the idea. But what do you do next? What do you do with
the 50 ideas you have written on the whiteboard?
Once you have listed your ideas, follow these steps:
- Highlight the most promising ideas. Start judging the
list. During this stage, you are not yet deciding on which solution to
use. You are only nominating ideas that are worthy of further
consideration—and weeding out those ideas that would never work.
- Improve those promising ideas. Once you’ve
identified the ideas that have promise, take each one and invent ways to
make it better. Make the idea as attractive as you can; come up with
ways to carry it out; make it as realistic as possible.
- Set up a time to evaluate the ideas. Often, it’s a
good idea to let people “sleep” on ideas for a while—to give them a
chance to think about them on their own time, without the pressure of
having to perform in front of other people. After you give everyone a
list of the selected solutions, break up the brainstorming meeting and
set up a “solution meeting”during which you will narrow down the list to
one workable solution.
—Adapted from Getting to Yes
, by Roger Fisher and William Ury (Penguin)