Running a brainstorming or problem-solving session

October 21, 2018


Excerpt from 'How to Wrestle an Octopus: an agency account manager's guide to pretty much everything'. Available now!
 

Just as ‘many hands make light work’, many brains can make for quicker and more robust solutions than what we could usually do on our own.

There will certainly be times when you can come up with great ideas - or solve issues - by yourself; for other times, when you know you need group assistance, here are some ways to ensure you get the best out of your brainstorming sessions.

  • Choose your one goal and deliverable. For a fast, efficient brainstorming session you should have one goal only, and it should be crystal clear and easy to articulate to the group. You should also convey what the deliverable will be that you expect the group to present at the end.
  • Pick your team. It’s important that you keep numbers to a minimum, and that everyone who is part of the brainstorm will contribute to the meeting and be willing to change their opinions during the process.
  • Covering costs. Be aware that when you ask for your colleagues’ assistance, you are pulling them away from their chargeable work. Try to ensure that your brainstorming time is covered in what you are on-charging to your client (another good reason to keep numbers to a minimum).
  • Allow enough, but not too much time. Brainstorming and problem-solving require creativity. Whilst a certain amount of time pressure can be beneficial to keep the creative thought process on-track, you want to allow enough time to explore all options and end up with a well-considered solution.
  • Tools of the trade. Ensure that you have the right equipment available to capture all the thoughts (e.g. whiteboard and pens, large sheets of paper and markers, pads and pens, sticky notes, etc.).
  • Bribery works wonders. If your meeting is going to last more than one hour, consider providing nibbles and drink (or copious quantities of chocolate). Keeping your team fed and watered goes a long way toward keeping them happy, engaged, and productive. 
  • Brief thoroughly. Brainstorming works better if you can give your team a heads-up on the purpose of the meeting before commencing (including any back-story, examples, and data). Depending on the topic (especially if it is a problem-solving meeting) you may choose not to give too much away until you start, so you’ll need to use your judgement. Once the meeting commences, ensure you brief the team well and reinforce the one goal and the deliverable(s). Convey all the salient points that they need to know, and leave out everything that is irrelevant to your purpose.
  • Avoid rabbit trails. It’s easy for brainstorming sessions to go off on ‘rabbit trails’ of thought and excitement, jokes and random thoughts. Whilst you don’t want to inhibit anyone’s creativity, it’s very important to keep this meeting on-target and heading in the right direction.
  • Ta da! By the end of the meeting, you should have reached your goal, and have a deliverable that you can use for the next step. Thank your team profusely for their time, input and greatness.

 

     

     





    Leave a comment

    Comments will be approved before showing up.


    Also in Latest Tips & Tricks

    How to survive a last-minute deadline

    January 20, 2019

    Last-minute deadlines are something all account managers have to handle. The good news is that there are things you can do to ease the pain of the moment.

    View full article →

    Budgets and forecasts – what are they and why are they so important?

    January 08, 2019

    If you find forecasting to be one of the more challenging facets of your account management career, you are certainly not alone. Once or twice a year the words ‘budget’ and ‘forecast’ can strike fear into the most stout-hearted of teams. What do these words mean, and what are you supposed to do with them?

    View full article →

    Working with sponsorships

    December 05, 2018

    All sponsors will want as much mileage and value as possible in exchange for their money, time, support, and products. Your client will be the one to manage sponsor relationships and expectations, but you may be called upon to think up ways to incorporate sponsors into your agency-specific activities. Here are some suggestions.

    View full article →

    Our gift to you!

    SIGN UP TO THE AM-INSIGHT NEWSLETTER, AND YOU WILL RECEIVE 100% OFF THE PURCHASE PRICE OF ANY ONE MICROSOFT WORD OR EXCEL RESOURCE FROM THE AM-INSIDER WEBSITE. CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP NOW!