Brainstorming is a productive activity for generating new ideas, but it does not always lead to action. Often there are so many ideas at the conclusion of a session that it becomes overwhelming and hard to know where to begin. Adding a second step in the process can facilitate action by loosely prioritizing ideas before participants depart.

Define your topic/problem as a question: “How might we attract more youth to our business?” or “What incentives could we offer next year?”.

Begin by giving each member a small pad of sticky notes and a pen. Have them stand by a wall or piece of flip chart paper and brainstorm ideas for a set period of time – writing one idea per sticky note and saying it aloud as they write it. (This will help trigger other ideas from others in the group.)

When all the ideas have been generated, on a second sheet of flip chart paper draw a grid with Implementation across the horizontal axis and Impact along the vertical axis. Create a quadrant with Hard/Easy Implementation and High/Low Impact. Then have participants place their brainstormed ideas into the appropriate quadrant.

  • Ideas that are Hard to Implement and have Low Impact (Red) can be forgotten without any discussion.
  • Ideas that are Easy to Implement and have Low Impact (Orange) can likely be set aside too. Even if they are easy, they still require some resources, and why bother if there is little to be gained.
  • Ideas that are Hard to Implement and have High Impact (Yellow) can be considered later or incorporated into more strategic planning.
  • Ideas that are Easy to Implement and have High Impact (Green) are where you should begin.

The entire brainstorming and prioritization process can happen in less than an hour but engages all the participants in both aspects of the discussion. Try it and see if it doesn’t move your ideas to action more quickly than brainstorming alone.

Download handout here.

Source: The Abel Group, Diamond Leadership Workshop, June 26, 2007

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

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