We’ve all been there. Your boss walks up to your desk and has a great vision for what the team needs to accomplish, and it’s up to you to make it happen, and you don’t know where to start. Maybe it’s not your boss, maybe it’s a client, or maybe it’s your idea, but you just don’t know how to bring this vision into reality. The challenge is so big or you’ve gotten so lost on the road you don’t know how to solve it.
You’re stuck. So what to do?
For me, the best thing to do when you get stuck is to pull a group of people together into a brainstorming session with some clear guidance and rules. I’m a fan of design thinking and IDEO’s human centered design toolkit. I find that their rules work remarkably well. So here they are*:
Before the brainstorm set up the specific challenge or problem you are trying to solve. IDEO suggests using the “How might we ____” phrase, which is a great way to set it up. Your challenge could be, “How might we increase online donors” or it could be “How might we inspire policy makers to view our site.” Make sure everyone understands the topic and the specific problem you are trying to solve.
Everyone should have a stack of post-its, a sharpie (or thick pen). Before you begin, go through the rules for the brainstorm to ensure its success:
- Defer Judgement
- Encourage Wild Ideas
- Build on the Ideas of Others
- Stay Focused on Topic
- One Conversation at a Time
Listen to each other and let everyone have time to explain their ideas.
- Be visual
- Go for Quantity
As people are explaining their ideas, group them together into similar themes. You may need to do another brainstorm with a narrower focus to follow up on the themes you found. If not, have everyone vote for their three favorite ideas.
Good luck! I hope this helps you get unstuck.