JOHN SWEENEY HAS BEEN chang­ing hu­man be­hav­iour across the globe for 15 years. A master of im­pro­vi­sa­tional in­sights and in­no­va­tion, he shares with us his sim­ple tips to help your team come up with some great new ideas.

Elite Property Manager - - Front Page - JOHN SWEENEY is a USA-based in­ter­na­tional speaker who will be pre­sent­ing at ARPM 2015. Visit arpm2015.com.au for more in­for­ma­tion.

WE’VE ALL been there. The busi­ness is go­ing in a new di­rec­tion and you need to think of ideas to sup­port it, or maybe you have a client de­mand­ing a fresh ap­proach and so a time and date are set; it’s brain­storm­ing time.

You and the team sit in a room armed with pens and pa­per, but the ideas just aren’t flow­ing. It’s awk­wardly silent. No­body feels com­fort­able speak­ing out and the mount­ing pres­sure is mak­ing ev­ery­one feel stressed.

In these sit­u­a­tions it can be all too easy to give up and de­clare you just aren’t that cre­ative, but re­sist that temp­ta­tion. In all my years fa­cil­i­tat­ing in­no­va­tion ses­sions for all kinds of busi­nesses, and in­spir­ing peo­ple to ex­hibit the be­hav­iours of in­no­va­tion, I’ve found a few very sim­ple tweaks to the brain­storm­ing process can elicit in­cred­i­ble re­sults.


1. Choose a phys­i­cal space out­side the typ­i­cal workspace; a change of en­vi­ron­ment helps the mind mi­grate away from ‘same old, same old’ ideas.

2. Send out some pre-brain­storm in­for­ma­tion that al­lows the par­tic­i­pants to know both the be­havioural guide­lines and the pur­pose of the ses­sion.

3. Ask par­tic­i­pants a topic they would like to brain­storm as a way to give back; for ex­am­ple, ten ideas of fun things to do that week­end.

4. Make sure the room set-up is com­fort­able, flex­i­ble and has sev­eral seat­ing op­tions.

5. Even if you are only brain­storm­ing one topic, split it up into sev­eral sub-top­ics or buck­ets to fill.

6. Quan­tify the num­ber of ideas for top­ics as your goal; for ex­am­ple, 50 new prod­uct names or 75 new mar­ket­ing ideas.

7. Mu­sic and sun­light (if pos­si­ble), es­pe­cially at the be­gin­ning of the ses­sion, will stim­u­late the mood and the phys­i­cal pres­ence of your team.

8. Choose a brief phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity to get the par­tic­i­pants’ blood flow­ing.

9. Be­gin with a non-busi­ness topic to start the energy flow and demon­strate the rules. For ex­am­ple, 50 things to do at a chil­dren’s birth­day party that would make it the best party ever.

10. Let the par­tic­i­pants know that vol­ume and quan­tity trump qual­ity at this stage of the in­no­va­tion process—we’re not look­ing for the best idea; we’re just look­ing for the next idea.

11. Con­tinue to throw in un­re­lated and fun top­ics.

12. In­clude palate-cleans­ing coach­ing sug­ges­tions like ‘Ten things that would get us all fired’ or ‘Ten ideas that our cus­tomers would hate’. These will help stretch your brain into ar­eas it would not typ­i­cally go.

13. Find sev­eral ways to col­lect ideas and give each par­tic­i­pant sev­eral op­tions. For ex­am­ple, ver­balise ideas, write them down on a note-card, white­board your ideas, come up with ideas as a team or spend your time alone in quiet. Ev­ery­one has the abil­ity to think and be­have in­no­va­tively. More of­ten than not it’s our mind­set that sti­fles us. Put these steps into prac­tice and I guar­an­tee you will be in­no­va­tively fight­ing fit in no time!


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