Well, there you are. You’ve just run a successful (or was it… buahahaha [insert evil laugh]) brainstorming session (and you can read about my semi-hatred towards brainstorming, just click here, lol) that saw no arguments, no bias, but tons of ideas! Now you’ve left with a pile of stickies; you know well enough some of them will end up in a trash can, some will be filed “for indefinite later”, and only some will survive. How can you make sure that A) the good ones prevail, and B) the participants don’t hate you for first encouraging them to go crazy, and then throwing away the crazy? Not easily, that’s how!

One rule to remember is: do not forget about the results! Don’t have the session just for the brainstorming sake, or because it’s trendy, or any other flimsy reason… If you do creative ideation, be prepared to use the results! Duh!

There are ways, however, and they’re definitely easier than brewing polyjuice potion! So take a look at how you can tackle the stickies tornado (sidenote: we’re assuming there was a problem at the base of the brainstorming, of course)!

AFFINITY DIAGRAMS

The goal of this tool is to organize and solidify chaotic information into something that can provide directions on where to go with it. Two simple, common-sense based steps make this possible:

+ Group similar/related ideas together
+ Find a suitable heading for each group

Boom, you made it! In a short time, your group managed to sort through the disorganized mess and clarify common themes and business areas related to the problem/root causes. With this clarity, it should be easier to move forward and tackle those areas that seem to fit the problem best.

DOT VOTING

Dot voting works when you have stakeholders included, or when there is no consensus. It’s a fast (relatively fast) method to reduce the ideas to leave those that resonate with the groups the most. Voting should also be silent, and there are two versions you could implement:

Version 1:

+ Agree how many ideas/themes will be discussed afterward, e.g. three
+ Each person gets an agreed amount of votes, e.g., five
+ The votes get distributed on a one vote per idea basis
+ Count the votes and settle on the three ideas/themes with the most votes

Version 2:

+ Agree how many ideas/themes will be discussed afterward, e.g. three
+ Each person gets an agreed amount of votes, e.g., five
+ The votes get distributed in whatever way the owner feels is the best – they can get five votes to five different ideas, or put all five votes on one idea they like the best (but then they have zero votes left)
+ Count the votes and settle on the three ideas/themes with the most votes

A pretty swanky way to avoid lengthy discussions, get the “democratic” decision, and move forward with what was decided collectively.

EISENHOWER MATRIX

Also called Urgent/Important Matrix/Chart/Principle, this time management tool can also be applied to brainstorming results. It will help you figure out what ideas should be tackled at first to focus on the crucial tasks. The Matrix has only four options but forces the participants to think about what they want to achieve for their problem and how fast.

Your categorization should follow the below rules:

+ The idea/task is important and urgent
+ The idea/task is important, but NOT urgent
+ The idea/task is NOT important, but urgent
+ The idea/task is NOT important and NOT urgent

Check out this short article that will you give even more info about this Matrix (including a handy pdf!)!

Of course, there are even more tools somewhere out there, used by different job roles, with different purposed. I don’t know all of them now, but gotta catch’em all, soon!