May 19, 2010
23 Reasons Why Nothing Happens After a Brainstorming Session

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How many times have you participated in a brainstorming session, only to be underwhelmed by the utter lack of follow up?

Unfortunately, in most businesses, this is often the norm.

Here's why:

1. The output of the session is underwhelming.

2. No one has taken the time, pre-brainstorm, to consider follow-up.

3. No criteria is established to evaluate the output.

4. No next steps are established at the end of the session.
5. No champions (i.e. process owners) are identified.
6. The champions are not really committed.
7. The champions are committed, but under-estimate the effort.

8. The ideas are too threatening to key stakeholders.
9. No one is accountable for results.

10. The project leader doesn't stay in contact with key players and "out of sight, out of mind" takes over.

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11. The "steering committee" takes their hands off the wheel.

12. The next brainstorming session is scheduled too quickly.

13. The output of the session is not documented.

14. No sponsors are on board.

15. Participants' managers are not supportive of the effort

16. It takes too long to document the output of the session.

17. The output is not distributed to stakeholders in a timely way.

18. Participants and stakeholders do not read the output.

19. Bureaucracy and company politics rule the day.

20. Somebody, in the session, is disengaged and sabotages the effort.

21. Teamwork and collaboration is in short supply.

22. Small wins are not celebrated. People lose heart.

23. Participants perceive follow-up as "more work to do" instead of a great opportunity to really make a difference.

What else should be on this list?

Excerpted from Conducting Genius

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at May 19, 2010 08:04 AM

Comments

24. participants have no power or control over what will be done with the ideas

25. participants were not volunteers

26. participants have very little to no training in idea generation

27. facilitator is inexperienced or poorly trained.

28. problem is not clearly defined.

Posted by: Robert_Alan Black [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 21, 2010 09:28 AM

This may have been implied, but it comes down to one word in front of many bullets... fear. Fear the project will fail. Fear the project will be too much work. Fear the meeting will be unproductive. Fear no one will follow through. And on, and on, and on...

Posted by: BeBizzy [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 21, 2010 10:10 AM

I believe that the problem is in the planning and purpose, or should I say lack of planning and purpose, of the creative effort. If the organization is serious in its innovation efforts, then the follow up will be taken seriously and given appropriate resources. If brainstorming is just a rainy day activity to generate something that can be used to show we are being creative, then every point listed above is true. If that list above is considered by the entire organization prior to the session happening, then they can all be avoided. I know because I have seen it happen...

Posted by: Julius Nagy [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 21, 2010 11:09 AM

Very engaging topic. Reminds me of a greater question, one that encapsulates the subject and represents an exciting paradigm shift for corporate ecosystems around the world... cultural transformation. This seems to be a systemic issue throughout the world today at micro and macro levels. Businesses and the leaders that govern them are in need of new business models that facilitate environments which refresh the tone at the top and provide systems that foster common sense principles and innovation as referenced and implied in this illuminating work. Here here to true believers of noble and socially responsible forums as provided herein.

Posted by: colin tong [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 22, 2010 02:05 AM

2x Management has a preferred solution and only provides resources for that effort. Participants either know this and are demoralized with a sense of doom, don't know this and become demoralized, or apply maximum "brown-nose" effort, so sabotaging real brainstorming, to execute the preferred solution.

Posted by: Guy Jordan [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 22, 2010 10:37 AM

Great list and discussion. Brainstorming is a creative process that is strengthened by a move to the right hemisphere. This requires real facilitation. I'd also add that it is iterative. Big opportunities open up when small ideas have a chance to bubble up and there's no telling where, when or from who they will originate. This requires management commitment, planning, facilitation, inclusion, analysis. Repeat.

Posted by: Pete [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 24, 2010 11:30 AM

Interesting. Just finished a two day staff retreat....wish I had this to share with my colleagues. Hopefully it isn't too late for this meeting but I know I can definitely use it going forward.

Posted by: www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=803420382 [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 26, 2010 09:17 PM

Great article! Thanks for sharing!

Most critical in the list: 5. No champions (i.e. process owners) are identified.

Posted by: Fame Foundry [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 27, 2010 01:30 AM

I've found it helpful to schedule an execution meeting separate from the brainstorming session. Basically a vetting and prioritization phase. Helps keep the free flow of ideas during brainstorming... while ensuring the right ideas receive follow-through.

Good food for thought! Thanks.

Posted by: Andrew McFarland [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 3, 2010 09:31 AM

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