3 ways brainstorming can help accelerate decision-making

Executive Summary:

Organizations need efficient decision-making techniques to navigate challenges and capitalize on opportunities. Efficient techniques and methodologies can enhance team and company performance, promote innovation, and maintain a competitive advantage. Brainstorming helps accelerate decision-making by:

  1. Generating diverse and creative ideas: brainstorming encourages participants to contribute creative ideas around a specific problem. Ensuring all options are considered, including unconventional solutions, unlocks creative thinking and enables rapid generation and evaluation of multiple ideas.
  2. Fostering collaboration: collaboration and equal participation promotes an inclusive environment. This allows for diverse perspectives and expertise, leading to more informed and objective decision-making, more quickly.
  3. Promoting ownership, buy-in, and consensus: as all team members contribute equally, brainstorming fosters a sense of ownership and investment in the decision-making process. Open discussion and debate help to identify areas of agreement and to reach a consensus more quickly.

Brainstorming techniques are successfully employed by global players including Google and Microsoft. Bill Gates’ Think Week has consistently led to innovative products and services. Google brainstorming sessions emphasize immediate action and accelerated decision-making.

Decision-making techniques must deliver improvements to be useful. Implementing brainstorming techniques and utilizing an online visual platform like Klaxoon can enhance efficiency, improve teamwork, and lead to an accelerated decision-making process.

An organization with efficient decision-making practices will be able to navigate complex challenges and capitalize on opportunities more quickly and easily. Steering an organization towards success is not always easy. Just like driving a car, if you fail to react to what is going on around you, you run the risk of wasting time at best, and at worst, causing serious damage. 

Similarly, missing a turn in time can lead you in the wrong direction and cause missed opportunities just to get back to where you started. Braking too late could cause a pileup, which is damaging to you and those around you. By making well-informed decisions early on in a process, executives can enhance team and company performance, drive innovation, and maintain a competitive advantage.

Managers should be able to analyze information and evaluate options in a timely manner to respond as quickly as possible to any emerging risks or opportunities before an advantage disappears or an issue becomes a serious problem. With complex decision-making challenges involving numerous variables, risks, and trade-offs, efficient techniques and methodologies can provide analytical tools and a structured framework. These can help address complex problems and assess the potential impact of various factors. They provide a basis whereby managers can come to the right solutions sooner.

As margins become smaller in periods of economic downturn, managers need to allocate resources efficiently and effectively to maximize a company’s return on investment and achieve their strategic goals in the best way possible. Weighing risk and reward with all the right information in play is vital to ensure that negative consequences are minimized. 

Giving managers the ability to make the right decisions at the right time is key. If you can consider diverse perspectives and balance competing interests efficiently, you are more like to reach decisions that will continue to take a company forward in the right direction. A structured approach that ensures decisions are well-reasoned and backed by evidence, that is also adaptable and quick to react to change helps executives embrace opportunities and stay agile in competitive markets.

Differentiating your company and improving your performance

Differentiating your company from its competitors can be challenging. With many organizations operating in saturated markets and competing with similar brands and pricing pressures, companies need to know their methodologies for strategic thinking, innovation, and decision making are all sound. Staying agile in a dynamic market helps companies increase their chances of standing out from the competition and staying ahead of the game. Making the right decisions early is a key component to ensuring this.

What should a new working method or process deliver?

If you are going to implement a new working method or process it should deliver several key outcomes:

Improved efficiency and productivity 

A new methodology should optimize workflows, eliminate unnecessary steps, reduce waste, and enhance the overall efficiency of a person, team, or organization. Less effort and fewer resources should be required to accomplish the same tasks.

Consistency and quality 

It is no good implementing a new working method if it cannot be replicated in new scenarios. It needs to work consistently and produce results that are always of the same high quality.

Time and resource management 

Time and resources do not come cheap. Ensuring that a new working method or process makes optimal use both of people’s time and the resources available to them is key. You want to increase efficiency. There should therefore be clear guidelines and established ways of working to help individuals and teams allocate their time, energy, and resources effectively.

Decision-making support 

Decisions will always need to be made, so you need working methods that offer structured frameworks, tools, and information to support, not hinder, the decision-making process. Individuals should be able to make informed choices, evaluate the options available to them effectively, and assess any actual or potential risks.

Collaboration and communication 

Effective collaboration and communication within and across teams is important for ensuring that decisions are not made in a siloed environment. A working method should provide channels and mechanisms for sharing knowledge, exchanging feedback, and promoting honest and transparent communication.

Adaptability and flexibility 

Dynamic business environments demand adaptable and flexible working methods. They should allow for timely adjustments and refinements.

Continuous improvement 

A good working method or process should facilitate a culture of continuous improvement. Individuals and teams should be encouraged to identify areas for improvement and seek to implement changes that will help optimize their work and the process itself.

Desired outcomes and results 

It should go without saying that a working method or process should deliver the desired outcomes and results that it is being used for. Outcomes also need to align with an organization's goals and objectives and so any methodology should contribute to achieving strategic objectives, meeting targets, and so on.

If you implement a working method or process for decision making, you need to know it will enhance your teams’ skills. You need increased efficiency and productivity to streamline operations, eliminate bottlenecks, or optimize workflows to achieve more output from the resources you already have. An optimized decision-making process should lead to cost savings and improved overall performance.

How do brainstorming techniques help with more efficient decision making?

Brainstorming can be a valuable tool to enhance decision-making skills. Here are just three of the ways it can help:

1. Brainstorming generates diverse and creative ideas

The brainstorming method involves asking participants to come up with creative ideas related to a specific decision or problem. It encourages the generation of a wide range of ideas and perspectives, as each person involved is invited to contribute their own insights and suggestions. 

Ideally this process is undertaken with a range of people with different backgrounds to provide as much diversity as possible. Participants are encouraged to think outside the box and offer their thoughts regardless of how unrealistic they might seem at first glance. This process helps to avoid narrow-minded thinking by encouraging a more comprehensive consideration of options.

As an executive it can be easy to dismiss options without really properly considering them, especially in a time-pressured environment. The brainstorming process helps ensure that multiple possibilities are looked at and evaluated with an open mind before a decision is made. The creativity unlocked through brainstorming can lead to innovative and unconventional solutions. And because the process is rapid, it allows participants to quickly generate and work through many ideas in a short amount of time.

2. Brainstorming fosters collaboration

Brainstorming is a method that involves collaboration and teamwork. It is a process that gives equal weight to each team member involved in the exercise. Too often employees can feel that they have no voice because more forceful team members take over, or they are afraid to speak up as feel they do not have the seniority or ‘right’ to a valid opinion that anyone would want to hear. 

Brainstorming promotes a more inclusive and equal environment. People will be heard, regardless of their seniority or how ‘extrovert’ they are when it comes to expressing their opinions.

When teams come together to brainstorm, they can build upon one another's ideas and clarify new concepts quickly and efficiently. A collaborative process can enhance the quality of decision-making by incorporating different perspectives, experiences, and expertise. 

Brainstorming helps to overcome individual biases and preconceived notions and helps participants look at things differently. When team members openly share their ideas in a collaborative space, it can allow for a more objective evaluation of options and lead to more informed decisions.

3. Brainstorming promotes ownership, buy-in, and consensus for decisions

All team members can contribute their ideas and opinions during brainstorming sessions. They can see that there is a valid process leading to a decision, and they can be part of it. If you feel as though you are an important part of the process, you are likely to feel more invested in the outcomes. 

Team members who feel that a decision or solution will be reached fairly, based on all the best information available, are likely to agree to decisions that make sense in a faster, more efficient way. With the opportunity to discuss and debate various ideas openly, participants are likely to identify areas of agreement and find common ground more quickly.

Market-leading companies using brainstorming techniques

Companies like Google and Microsoft use brainstorming to great effect – even at the most senior level.

Bill Gates and Think Week

Bill Gates has always encouraged employees to brainstorm ideas for innovative new products and services and submit them to him for review. 

Although these days ideas go through an online process, they used to be collected on pieces of paper. Bill Gates would then get a box containing all the ideas his employees had come up with and retreat to a cabin in the woods, where he would go through them. 

Known as Think Week, this biannual ritual of spending time in isolation with nothing to do but ponder creative ideas has led to some of the world’s greatest innovations. The basis for Internet Explorer originated in one of these weeks.  

Thinking like a Googler

Google have a tried and tested strategy for their brainstorming sessions, which they utilize all the time. 

Veronique Lafargue talked about Google’s brainstorming method when she was their global head of content strategy at Google Apps for Work. As she noted, “Just about everyone can learn to brainstorm better. After all, it’s a process like any other. And the beauty of a process is that it can be taught, learned, and shared”. 

Veronique is clear on how important it is for Google employees to act immediately after a brainstorming session, rather than waiting until a follow-up meeting to go through the most promising ideas to create prototypes. Brainstorming at Google is accelerated decision-making in action.

Brainstorming and more efficient decision making

There are so many different methods of brainstorming it would be impossible to mention them all here. The strategy and format of your brainstorming session will depend on what you are trying to achieve and how you intend to achieve it. There are ways to approach a ‘standard’ brainstorming session, as well as different ways to approach the brainstorming method itself. And the ways in which you can represent and sift through your ideas vary too.

Brainstorming creates a list of ideas, but how you represent these ideas can also spark greater creativity. Visual management techniques are often at the heart of efficient and effective brainstorming techniques. For example, using an online visual platform greatly enhances the experience and provides many more functionalities.

Representing your ideas as, for example, a mind map, can be a valuable tool to help find patterns and structure that might not otherwise be obvious. There are also styles of brainstorming that specifically look for patterns, like Creative Matrix. Global brand L’Oréal also successfully used Crazy 8 and 5W1H brainstorming methods on the Klaxoon visual platform for over 250 employees. 

As Vincent Arcin, Digital Transformation Director, said, they needed to get their ‘very diverse participants fully active and creative while sticking to the tight time limits imposed’. Using the right collaborative tool and brainstorming templates, Vincent and his team achieved ‘far easier and better decision-making’.

Brainstorming itself gets creative with methods like inverted brainstorming, whereby participants look at how the problem could get worse and reverse engineer a solution, and cubing brainstorming which looks at a problem from six different viewpoints.

A visual platform with collaborative tools for improving workflows and efficiency

Efficient decision making and more efficient workflows can help companies gain a competitive advantage. Using a visual platform with readymade templates that have been optimised for the task can help with teamwork and accelerate decision making. 

At Klaxoon we have all the visual management resources you need to help your teams. You will find extensive resources for brainstorming and ideation workshops to match a range of requirements, large and small. Why not check them out and see how Klaxoon can help your teams become more efficient and effective?

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