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Brainstorming for a Billion Dollar Idea

10th July 2018

Brain-writing

To generate our billion dollar idea, we will use a process called "brainwriting."

I chose this method to prevent the concept of conformity which usually occurs in group brainstorming, “early ideas tend to have disproportionate influence over the rest of the conversation. They establish the kinds of norms, or cement the idea of what are appropriate examples or potential solutions for the problem.”

So, to start with, participants write down their ideas before or at the very beginning of the meeting, and then come together to talk about them.

Ideally, ideas are anonymous. Consider having team members put their ideas on Post-It notes on a wall, then ask everyone to vote for their favourites.

Alternatively, you can use a free app like Candor. Candor sends your question to your participants, gathers their responses, and turns each idea into “cards” that you can use to organize your discussions.

The Disney Method

For over 90 years Disney has been creating some of the most wonderful icons in the history of entertainment. The company itself is as remarkable as its characters. 

Disney and his team used 3 different roles to generate ideas and explore a project thoroughly; the dreamer, the realist and the critic. Each of these roles help look at projects from a different angle.

We will be using the same approach for coming up with a billion-dollar idea. To take a start on this, we will imagine that we are working in three different rooms (roles). 

1. The Dreamer (Room 1)

In this room, everything is possible. The sky is the limit. You will use your imagination and are free to come up with any ideas. There is no judgement.

2. The Planner (Room 2)

In this room, we think how to turn those goals (wild ideas) into feasible plans. You will have to be more pragmatic and practical. Here we will pick the most relevant goal/goals and then create a plan to realise these goals. We need to think about what needs to be done to make these goals become a reality.

3. The Critic (Room 3)

In the last room, we take the role of a devil's advocate to find out what is missing. Here we will identify the barriers and obstacle?

Critics are not negative; they are constructive. They edit, improve and reject. All comments made in this room should be turned into questions for the Dreamers. After you have judged everything, it’s time to start the cycle all over again. We’ll keep doing this until we are satisfied with our results.

Use a Visual Jumpstart

We will pick an interesting image that’s somehow related to the focus of our brainstorm which is a billion-dollar idea. For the customer marketing event brainstorm example, you might select a photo of customers, a conference, or people mingling. 

Search Google Images for a photo to use.

Write down everything that comes to mind when you look at that photo: phrases, memories, and related thoughts.

Once you’ve completely exhausted your associations, review the list and see if anything jumps out. If you can’t find an item with obvious potential, try combining two or more thoughts.

Share Inspiration

Sharing inspiration is a great way of generating billion dollar ideas. To be able to foster a constant stream of ideas, we will create a shared file where everyone can store their random thoughts and inspiration. Trello board, Google Drive or Dropbox folder, Pinterest board, or just a text file or Google Doc can be used where everyone adds their ideas to.

Ask people to find examples of the theme like “Billion Dollar Ideas.”

We can also create a room in our team chat app for brainstorming. This will make it easy to comment on each other’s ideas; for instance, one person might add a useful link, while another might comment with a related thought three hours later.


This article was written by Sumia Quazi - Blended and e-learning Lead, Business Management Programme

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