The Perfect Brainstorm

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Recently, two books have come across my desk, and they both include an essential set of rules for all business owners, “Rules for Improvisation” from Tina Fey featured in Bossypants, and “Rules for Brainstorming” featured in Change by Design by Tim Brown. I found both to be uncannily similar and poignant looking into next season for salons and businesses. Both authors are wildly accomplished in their respective fields; one is the CEO of the world’s most successful innovation lab, IDEO, and creator of Design Thinking, and the other is an International Change-maker and Humorist; however different, their approach to new challenges is rather similar.

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Rule 1: “Yes, and …”

The first rule of brainstorming and improv is to keep an open mind, tackling each meeting with staff or colleagues from a place of “Yes.” Arriving with an open mind and being ready to contribute will allow free flow of ideas and creativity. Improvisation and brainstorming are similar, in the fact that open channels and creativity feed off one another – each idea should be met with a “Yes, and …” Leave the editing for later.

Rule 2: Make Statements

It is essential that everyone involved with brainstorming new ideas leaves their judgments at the door; there are no bad ideas, the only bad ideas are the ones that are not offered to the group. Be prepared to contribute. Make statements and offer solutions, consider the brainstorming space a question-free zone until the session is over.

Ideas can be edited, assessed for brand accuracy and flow later on, but during free flow of creativity, solutions stay in their original form without challenge. Most importantly, do not ask questions, make statements, contribute to the conversation or offer solutions. A brainstorming session might twist and turn in many directions, churning out hundreds of ideas – some usable, some not. The goal is bulk, not feasibility.

Rule 3: There Are No Mistakes

Much could be said about this rule, in life and otherwise; however, for your brainstorming session, there are no bad ideas. There are no mistakes. Outside-the-box thinking is the purpose of the exercise – stretching brand identity and creating growth for the upcoming season is where brainstorming gets its legs. It’s also the perfect place to try on concepts for fit and feel before offering them to your customers.

Adapt to changes in the brainstorming environment and regardless of how large or small your session is, always set a time limit. If you are the manager or owner of a single salon, host an all-hands session in preparation for next season to flesh out ideas, promotions and improvements to bring to customers. If you manage a larger organization, schedule a session among managers, then bring key personnel together to implement the best of their ideas companywide to ensure that the most innovative practices are implemented.

We are all looking for that spark of creativity or stroke of genius to get ready for next season; however, it might be time to tap into the resources at our fingertips. You might be surprised by what a few sessions of focused brainstorming with your team will reveal for your business and your profit margin. For more info on any of these topics, I highly recommended picking up Change by Design (Google Books, 2009) by Tim Brown and Bossypants (Little, Brown and Company, 2011) by Tina Fey at the bookseller or online retailer of your choice.

We are all looking for that spark of creativity or stroke of genius to get ready for next season; however, it might be time to tap into the resources at our fingertips.

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Still want more?

Find the extended rules of brainstorming from Change By Design here.


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