What is an idea generation meeting?

An idea generation meeting is often described as the most exciting phase of any project.

It brings together a group of dedicated people, who have the sole purpose of collaborating to create a whole bunch of ideas.

As the name suggests, the aim of the meeting is to generate as many ideas as possible. Then, the team can filter and reduce them into the best, most innovative, or most practical suggestions in order to achieve their goals.

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Who uses them?

There are numerous scenarios when an idea generation meeting fits the bill, such as if your company’s looking for new product ideas, needs an ad brainstorming session, or has to solve a marketing challenge to attract more customers.

These meetings can also apply away from the corporate side of things – for example, a charity may have a fundraiser brainstorming session, or a social committee could be looking for ideas for a party theme. The concept can be used for just about any situation when new ideas are needed fast.

How often are they used?

Often, companies try to solve problems with one of their known solutions, rather than looking for a new approach. It’s too easy for the company culture to start feeling stale.

It’s time to approach the situation differently, recognising the problem and looking for new and innovative solutions by thinking outside of the box.

How long should the meeting take to be seen as productive?

Once the basic rules have been outlined: focus on quantity – no ideas should be criticised, wild ideas should be welcomed and combined individual ideas may make even better solutions.

You could also ask participants to write their ideas down, rather than vocalising them. Ask everyone to jot down ideas on the topic on a sheet of paper and pass it to the person next to them. The next person adds their own ideas, and so on, until there are multiple long lists of ideas circulating around the table. This can help quieter people who aren’t comfortable shouting out their suggestions.

Are they proven to be helpful for businesses?

Idea generation meetings are helpful in numerous ways, not only for the business as a whole but for the employees too.

When the ideas are assessed and whittled down to the final contenders, the process provides information for employees on what the organisation considers possible, while revealing the accepted boundaries.

The process sparks an emotional involvement for the employees, who feel excited about being part of something new. It also provides a break from the day-to-day routine, creating new perspectives, a broader way of thinking and sparking inspiration.

Any tips for holding an idea generation meeting?

If you’re wondering how to come up with ideas, first write down the parameters behind the issue. They can be practical considerations, such as the costs involved, or something more abstract, such as considering the approaches that have failed in the past and how you can do things differently. As a starting point, ask yourself why a certain approach has failed, if anything has changed since and how you can address the failure in future.

Another approach is to work backwards if you’re struggling to lock into a forward-thinking approach for ideas. Think of your ideal outcome and try to find a way around or through the roadblock by working backwards to your current situation.

In the same way, try reversing goals. For example, if your aim is to reduce downtime on your servers, come up with ideas on how to keep the servers down continually. This approach is aimed at making you look at a problem in a different way.

Try role-playing and have a colleague take the role of a typical consumer whom you’re aiming to attract. Encourage them to be as tough as possible to please and ask them to give lots of reasons why they won’t buy. This makes you consider your audience on a more personal level and helps you refine your ideas.

Finally, remember to take a break. At some point, you may realise it’s not productive to carry on when you’re losing your spark and going round in circles, so have a coffee and let it lie for a while, before picking up again where you left off.

There’s no one set route to creativity and using different methods to get the ideas flowing is the best way to engage everyone’s interest until the job’s done.

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