The next time you run an "idea generating meeting," prime the workforce by putting together an upbeat session that involves all participants. Try these methods or come up with other creative ideas.
- An angle for meetings that has proven to be very successful is to put a different person in charge. The store manager or owner determines the agenda and then gives all meeting responsibilities to a staff member to carry out. Also asking the person, now in charge of the meeting, to add one new idea to the agenda -- this will encourage them to take off their blinders and become aware of great ideas around them in any type of business.
- Weeks before the idea-generating and brainstorming meeting, ask each staff member to visit a competitive store. Ask your benevolent spies to report about some segment of the business, i.e. the customer service, displays, phone manners or merchandise mix. If the ideas picked up from the competition are good, try to use them in your business.
- If trade magazines are piling up, assign a timely article to each staff member and ask him/her to review the material and present the information to the group at the next meeting.
- Collect ads, sales letters and brochures from rival businesses and critique them at your next session. The next time you do a mailing, ask the staff to evaluate the package that will be going out to perspective customers.
- Hold meetings in the morning. People are tired and thinking of other things at the end of the day. Important: Don't hold meetings on Friday or Monday -- people are thinking of either the past weekend or the upcoming one.
- Keep the group small. No more than ten people. The small size allows ideas to feed off each other, and keeps the energy level high.
- Distribute a "briefing" to participants before the meeting. The wheels of the mind can begin churning before the meeting ever begins.
- Allow absolutely "no" criticism of ideas. Something that may seem far-fetched now can breed thought for more viable, creative options.
- Invite the janitor -- or anyone else who can bring a new perspective to the business.