How to Beef Up Your Brainstorming Sessions at Work

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October 13, 2011 – Earlier this week we were all revved up for a fun brainstorming session on our next Facebook contest. Aside from generating some great ideas, which you’ll learn about in the coming days, I also learned a bit from our boss, Yvette, about what she does to prepare for these sort of collaborations.

It was just a casual comment while walking in the common area, but I heard her say to one of my co-workers:

“You know, one of the ways I prepare for a brainstorming session is to look at how other companies have handled similar projects and whether or not they were successful. (Seeing the good, bad, and the ugly will really help you define your path because you’ll have a much better sense of what you like and don’t like.) Then, I choose the ideas I know we’ll be able to scale to fit our budget and/or resources. I’ll even keep notes on the things I really liked, but maybe can’t swing for the project at that particular time for whatever reason. This way I can easily revisit these ideas when we aren’t limited in any way.”

In other words, she was supporting the notions of “follow the leader” and “learn from other’s mistakes”. And hey, these aren’t bad things to do! While certainly, smaller businesses like ours can’t do million T-shirt giveaways or a fan contest to win a new car, we can take those ideas and apply them on a smaller scale.

So before you head into the next brainstorming session at your office, think about what question you’re going to be tackling. If you’re generating ideas for a logo redesign, take a look at how some of your top competitors have handled that in the past. Or even go for the big guys like Starbucks to see how they faired when they removed their name from around their iconic mermaid.

When you’ve got a good grasp on what’s worked for others, it’s time to apply this to your own business. Think about scaling things down to your level. If you’re offering a prize, think locally – gift certificates to a restaurant in the neighborhood or tickets to the next local sports game. You may be able to do a trade-off with another business – offer an incentive from your business in exchange for one from theirs to use as a giveaway!

Don’t forget that we’re still running one more day of voting tomorrow for the name of our plush Google Panda pal! This may be a hint at what’s coming up next for Facebook contests…

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