By Michael Hwu
There are many ways to grow a company. There’s brainstorming, forecasting, research and development to name a few. At G5 we believe in driving growth through innovation – particularly product innovation. In order to grow, we leverage G5′s core asset – its people – to discover new patterns in customer behavior and to design products and services that deliver value and satisfaction. Sure, we’ve all been in brainstorm sessions before, but to get truly actionable outcomes, we employ techniques to help us go broad and then go narrow – establishing a framework that sets up our short-term ideas for long-term success.
Internally, one of our Core Values highlights this competency: “Big on ideas, not just big ideas.” Ultimately, we want a mix of the two. Cross-functional team members in brainstorming sessions allow us to maximize effectiveness and give our big ideas a sounding board. A mix of out of the box thinkers, hands-on realists, and client facing employees is essential to the success of brainstorming. Our sessions typically enlist eight to twelve people who are expected to come prepared with ideas. We often call this our Core Team. The leader of the group shares parameters, including formatting and goals, prior to the meeting.
We employ different techniques based on where we are in the development process. Starting from scratch requires a different dynamic than working to improve an existing product. As our Core Team generates ideas, we often find the need to create sub-teams for more detailed work. Break-out sessions allow smaller groups some time to work through tasks that require refinement. These sessions typically last about thirty minutes to one hour.
Once the groundwork has been laid out, sub-teams present their results to the Core Team and discussion ensues. This is where cross-functional team member roles really come into play. In our experience, the diverse sample of G5 employees often provides the insight and perspective needed for our most creative solutions. Before the session is over, we collect feedback to continually improve the process.
Sound simple enough? Be sure to set yourself up for success by choosing a diverse group, preparing the group for the session, setting some parameters and getting feedback to make future sessions better. One final thought: Don’t forget the food. A cheap meal goes a long way when it comes to pumping out your next killer app. For G5, Thai food yields especially big ideas.