Frame Out a Winning Brainstorming Session



It’s that time of year when we’re doing a little classic brainstorming on long-range plans and strategic goals. In fact, I’m meeting with a client soon to have just such a conversation, and I want to share a few ways you can map out your approach. It’s a simple, yet effective framework and it helps build areas out and provides for direction – rather than just showing up and saying, “Hey, Bob. What’s your idea?”
I structure brainstorming sessions into four different sections.
The first one centers on “Trends and Information” regarding your association. Identify some internal and external trends with a few Google searches. What membership trends are up? In what categories are people most active? What programs are working the best? These questions give the participants context and prompt discussion.
The second section focuses on, “What is working?” List those things out. “Well, this approach is working great,”  “And, we’re blowing this out of the top here,” and “We’ve seen unbelievable sponsorship growth because of….” You get the idea.
The third phase addresses, “Where are we stuck?”  Hash out those things not going as well as you’d wanted, areas where you’re in a bit of a logjam, and places where you haven’t had a breakthrough in the last year or so.
Ultimately, these three areas lead you to the fourth and final phase during which you discuss, “What are you going to do about it?” This process enables you to develop best those plans or ideas for 2019 – which, we’re all thinking about right now.
Here’s the tricky thing: you will discover when discussing the “what are we going to do about it” area, your colleagues will tend to focus on “where you are stuck.”  Be sure to spend equal amounts of time in the “what’s working” area, so you’re leveraging those strengths to “where are you stuck and what you need to fix.”
The final phase will help you identify key priorities and new initiatives for your organization. This framework is a fantastic approach to brainstorming and I hope you find it helpful.


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