The first two posts in this series covered how to get started brainstorming, especially if you struggle with loosening up your organized thinking, and included several brainstorming processes you can use to generate new ideas.
Once you’ve made it through the brainstorming session, you will have a number of thoughts that will need to be analyzed, processed and incorporated into an action plan. This evaluation step helps you get rid of the non-working ideas and use the good results to formulate your next steps.
Here’s how to make sense of what you’ve created and morph your thoughts and ideas into a plan of action.
Return to the Ground Rules
One of the first steps you took before beginning your brainstorming process was listing the ground rules for the solution. These rules could be anything from requiring skills you already have, avoiding an unrealistic investment, or adhering to a set of ethical standards.
Whatever the rules were, now is the time to go through your set of ideas generated from your brainstorm and eliminate everything that goes against your identified guidelines.
Eliminate the Noise
Now, you will still have a lengthy list of ideas, thoughts and concepts that you need to wade through. Take a few minutes and look at each element and make a decision on the validity of it, automatically eliminating anything that is irrelevant or off-topic.
If there are concepts that do not immediately apply to the challenge, but have value, you may want to create a secondary list of possible considerations. This list can be used to supplement your action plan, or even as a starting point for a follow-up brainstorming session.
Pick Out the Patterns
Take the remaining thoughts and concepts you have down, and look for a common pattern or theme. Do any of the ideas generate new viewpoints that you hadn’t considered before? Start to organize your ideas by their commonalities, level of development, or completeness.
Start to Plan
Once you have a clear idea of the action steps needed to take your brainstorm through to execution, it’s time to plan it out. Start by identifying your goal, then incorporate each of the concepts into specific tasks. Like with all goal planning, be sure to include a way to measure progress as you go.
If you’re unable to break down the rough ideas into groups and then individual tasks, you may want to consider one or more additional brainstorming sessions to flesh out each idea in more detail.
How do you brainstorm? Do you find your brainstorm method to be productive?
Image credit: Michal Zacharzewski