How to Lead Ideation Sessions for Results
Are you looking for a way to get your team excited about your department’s goals for the next quarter or the next year? Far too many sales managers simply announce that everyone must to increase sales by 10% and then move on to the next topic. Glenn Rudin, founder of Always Been Creative, and a recent guest on our Manage Smarter podcast, says that’s the wrong approach. He knows what it takes to rally your team and lead successful ideation sessions. Here’s what he told us.
We all know how important brand identity can be to a company. When we think of Apple, sleek leading-edge products come to mind. This kind of brand identity drives sales and loyalty.
Individuals can have brand identity as well. Whether you love or hate him, New England Patriots’ quarterback, Tom Brady, represents unique excellence in the game of football. His fans regularly tune in to watch him play.
If you want your team to becomes fans of your next big project, try developing a unique theme or brand. Over the years, I’ve branded the goals for the year during my company’s annual meeting. I believe tying each goal to the year’s theme helps my team members identify where we’re headed.
Identifying unique branding themes shouldn’t be a one-way street. These ideas don’t always have to feed down from managers to employees. You can solicit input from your team members.
Don’t expect that employees will come running to you with their best ideas in the course of the normal workday. For the most part, your people focus on the task in front of them. They worry about meeting the upcoming deadline. To tap into real creativity, your employees need a break from the routine.
Take them to an offsite location and establish a few ground rules. The most important rule should be that every idea has merit. Rudin has found that “as soon as you start pigeonholing people into saying, well, we're not going to go in that category, we're going to stay away from that, then you immediately start to cut off the blood supply to the creativity.” The key to any brainstorming or ideation session is to encourage people to think on a different level. The smallest kernel of an idea, mulled over in a group session, can germinate into a new product line.
Do you believe in the concept you’re pitching to your team? Great. That’s not enough. You need to show your enthusiasm through your words and actions. Stand up when you make your announcement. Walk about the room. Make eye contact with every individual while you address the group. Explain how your plan connects to the large company goal. Rudin reminds us that "people who you're speaking to might not remember what you say word for word, but if you're excited and enthusiastic about it, they will be as well."