As both a student and professional, you will spend a lot of time working on projects with different teams. The early phases of these projects will comprise of producing ideas, often lots of them.
However, producing ideas is a easier said than done and it only gets more complicated as a team since there will be lots of different ideas and lots of arguments. Here are a few steps on how you can make it easier to produce and develop ideas as a team:
1. Clearly define your objectives.
Your ideas are like arrows. Without clear targets, your team will be shooting all over the place thus accomplishing nothing. So the first step you should take is to clearly define your objectives.
Ensure everyone knows what you’re trying to accomplish. Identify the challenges, limitations and deadlines of each objective. Understand every aspect of the goals you wish to achieve.
Break down your objective into smaller objectives. For the smaller objectives, you can produce simpler ideas which you can mix or combine later on to achieve the larger objective.
2. Write down ALL ideas.
Except for totally nonsensical or ridiculous ones, write down all the ideas your teammates mention. What might seem difficult or unhelpful now might be developed into better ideas or combined with other ideas to produce even better ideas.
During team meetings, having a whiteboard is extremely helpful. If you can’t get one, a large piece of paper that can be seen by everyone is adequate. By making the ideas visible to everyone, you make it easier for yourself and everyone to produce new ideas.
Instead of just typically listing them down, try new methods. I recommend writing them in mind maps. Big ideas are big clouds with small related ideas connected to them. You can connect different big clouds to show that they can be combined or mixed. This makes each idea easier to develop as it allows you to get a clear picture of each idea’s progress.
3. Generate ideas first, analyse later.
If you analyse and scrutinise every idea after generating one, you lose the chance of finding better ideas. So just generate ideas first, analyse them later. Ideas run on creativity while analysis is based on logic. When you switch between them, you lose mental momentum.
I suggest having a target for the amount of ideas to have before moving on to the analysis part of the discussion. If it’s a small project, you can set a target of 5 to 7 ideas before analysing them.
You can begin analysing the ideas. Focus on the effectiveness of each idea and also their limitations or weaknesses. Argue each other’s ideas but do it professionally. Remember, argue the idea, not the person.
Last but not least, don’t forget to settle on the final idea(s). Don’t leave your teammates confused.