Better brainstorming: Four certified consultants share their tips on how to best facilitate an exploration session
- Drill down
- Training Insights
Identifying new market opportunities stemming from your core is one of the key pillars of the Market Opportunity Navigator. This step is critical for established companies – searching for promising growth engines beyond their existing boundaries, as well as for startups – that must look before they leap.
Worksheet 1 provides a structured process for this identification step. Yet, searching broadly means bringing different perspectives to the table, and therefore running a productive brainstorming session based on Worksheet 1 requires good facilitation.
So how do you orchestrate the session to make it productive and eye-opening?
We asked four certified Where to Play consultants to share their best tips and tricks on how to approach these brainstorming sessions and make the most out of them.
1. Inside-out and outside-in
Oliver Durrer , Founder, Innovation & Impact Catalyst, swissleap.com
In our experience, especially larger organisations tend to default to what they already know and do very well – strategically and operationally – as a starting point for innovation ideation. To increase the scope of possibilities for relevant strategic innovation and to create a maximum of additional value, we induce a perspective shift from inside-out to outside-in by identifying unmet market and customer needs. For a successful strategic innovation outcome, it is crucial to combine both approaches. The Market Opportunity Navigator framework supports this by examining an organization’s unique abilities in terms of their functions and properties (inside-out) separately from their possible market applications (outside-in). This helps to enrich the set of options, enhance strategic alignment between different possibilities and elevate the overall likelihood of successful initiatives – for enterprises as much as for startups.
2. Ten squats for each ‘but’
Alvaro De Salvo, Marketing consultant, Equanimous,
When running an exploration session to identify new market opportunities, I like to first define the core abilities and once that is clear, run a 30 min brainstorming session to force innovative thinking around all core abilities. In this session there is one rule only: to continue expanding on another speaker’s idea, validating each idea proposed with a “Yes! And what I like about that idea is that we can also do X, Y and Z”. The point is to force creativity and innovation, as opposed to overruling and invalidating someone’s ideas. If any of the participants uses the word “But” either for minimizing, rejecting or invalidating any idea proposed: they’ll have to do 10 squats on the spot. The session is geared to expand everyone’s thinking about the status quo and not to let the atmosphere shrink it according to our biases and limitations
3. Setting the rules upfront
Stephen Bateman, Instigator of entrepreneurial discipline, SCIC Pau Pyrenees,
I start every brainstorming session with setting some basic rules for a respectful discussion. The key point about these guidelines is first and foremost to recognize the need for them: e.g. discuss with the team what traps could we fall prey to without a set of rules. We then produce our set of guidelines accordingly.
The eight rules we produced and chose to turn into the poster as the outset of a recent session for an effective session , and for when others might join us on from outside, were:
- Be cordial and non-judgmental during discussions
- One voice at a time and raise your hand to contribute
- Take the time to reformulate to check your understanding
- Facilitate and encourage communication
- Build in break time
- Do not censor
- Grant yourself the right to challenge
- No computer terminals or phones during the session
4. Zoom out and mix
Dora Marosvolgyi, Director for Cross-KIC Strategic Regional Innovations, EIT Jumpstarter
There is no right or wrong answer during brainstorming. My advice is to zoom out and look at your technology again, break it down and see if you can think of other use-cases, even outside of your industry. In the EIT Jumpstarter we work with inventors with a deep tech start-up idea coming from various industries and we usually like to mix them for the identification session to encourage out of the box thinking.
5. The power of heterogeneity
This last tip is from Marc and myself.
Management teams tend to get bounded in their existing business lines. To help them see beyond these boundaries, invite trusted external partners, colleagues and associates to join the brainstorming session. These could be individuals from the firm’s ecosystem or even from completely different sectors. You will not believe how powerful an outside perspective can be!
If you want to learn more about the structured process of Worksheet 1 check out this article.
To become a certified Where to Play expert, check out our Certification Program.