Do you remember me talking about the power of a group in my last blog? If you didn’t get a chance to read it it’s here.
By way of a little follow up of the event I did for International Women’s Day, I thought I’d update you on how it all went and how we used the Brainstorm Booth to move forward with a few problems.
The mini workshops were designed to enable participants (women at The Enterprise Network‘s conference for International Women’s Day) to bring along a problem to solve. Each session was an hour, which in itself presented a small conundrum to me – that old problem of time. How do you brainstorm 9 different problems in an hour?
The answer is you don’t. And you don’t get a fully fledged start to finish problem solving session. For that you need a far longer time frame – one where you can unpick problems slowly, piece by piece and bring them together in a way that gives you step by step actions to follow. When I facilitate in house with a group, perhaps to brainstorm ideas to move forwards with a project, or to think of ways to add value to a piece of work, we have at least half a day (a whole day if I’m lucky). But this was a taster, a mini workshop and chance to see just what was possible in an hour.
So, in the first place, not everyone had a particular problem to solve. Some people had come just to be a part of the discussion. For those that did, we started by presenting the problems, and then taking a look at whether there were any that shared some similarities. By pulling them all together, we realised that there were indeed issues that gelled together and that would benefit from being tackled in a broad sense by the same small group.
So that’s what we did, we set out the issues then pulled them together, gave them a heading and cracked on with the discussions in small groups.
Our two groups in the first session had the problems:
How to make your horse thirsty
How to grow our businesses.
The second session discussed:
Appealing to different customers/potential employees
What was important to start up a business and create a strategy
I probably need to explain the thirsty horse…..one of the participants told us a story based on the expression “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink”. Just like running a business, you can give people all sorts of information and tell them that your product or service is amazing. But you need them to want what you’re offering to become your customer. You need to make the horse thirsty. So team horse, were discussing ways to attract new customers and have quality engagement with them.
I facilitated the workshop so the participants could work through a process that I had designed for them, enabling each group came up with some brilliant ideas which they distilled into a handful of top tips. The sharing of thoughts, experiences and knowledge and the collaborative working to generate ideas really made the discussion valuable. Everyone seemed invested in the process and there was a wonderful energy in the room. These elements are some of the key ingredients for a good workshop, whatever its size.
There were some wonderful top tips that came out of the session, including:
Building up face to face relationships, being persistent and keeping on touch with potential leads to make the horse thirsty. Knowing your market and starting with a vision in mind for starting up a business and creating a strategy.
But it was much more that the things that were written down. It’s the process of the discussion itself that was powerful. Those little nuggets of information that come up, those shared stories, that confirmation that you are not alone in your dilemmas, that acknowledgement that running a business is not easy, but that we can share our insights and inspiration to move forwards.
A good brainstorm though, should not end there. It’s not about throwing the balls in the air, talking about them and leaving. It’s about what you do next. I gave each of the participants a shiny lightbulb to write down their best idea from the workshop, something to take away on act on, to remind them of the discussion and to create some continuity of the hard work everyone put it.
Thank you to all the participants in both my workshops. You invested your time and energy into the sessions and made them a wonderful experience to be a part of.
What are your tops tips to make your horse thirsty?