How to generate great ideas with strangers

There’s this new trend that’s just taking off the ground. It involves a group of strangers coming together to generate great business ideas. A literal brainstorming get-together with people who have either never met each other or are vague acquaintances. While this idea might sound completely absurd, we assure you that the results are nothing short of spectacular.

How to generate great ideas with strangers

What better way to get fresh ideas than to think outside of the box? Or even better, have others think outside the box for us. The group of individuals works well with about four to seven people.

Create ideas

Once a diverse group of experienced business men and women have been gathered together, each member needs to answer a series of questions on a piece of paper. These questions would sound something like this:

List three or four of your main products or services.

What are your primary markets? These can be types of customers, industry sectors, or geographical markets.
What do you consider to be your greatest strengths? These can be skills, market strength, technologies, etc.
What is your organization or department’s proudest achievement?

It should take about five to ten minutes for everyone to fill in the questionnaire. Now, the fun begins. Once completed, the papers are all passed to the person on the left. So each participant now has the questionnaire filled out by the person to the right of them. Everyone must now read through the questionnaire and think a little. They must now turn the page over and write down two or more suggestions for new markets for existing products, and two or more suggestions for new products or services. This process is now repeated several more times, each time passing on to the left so that there is an even rotation. With each passing, the next person to receive the page must read the answers and add new and different ideas to the back.

Review the ideas

After about four passings, the pages are returned to their original owners. It is now time to review the information and suggestions that were made. There will be a vast mixture of ideas. Some will be pretty straight forward and obvious, some will be way out there and would probably never work, and some will be real gems with a possibility for great success.

Develop a strategy

Each person now needs to select one idea from the bunch that they think would possibly work out best. Then they must develop a short strategy for this new product or service and describe how they could test the idea in a quick and affordable manner to decide its viability. This strategy is then presented to the group for further brainstorming and discussion.

How to generate great ideas with strangers

There is something very clever about this whole process. Sometimes we are too close to a problem to find a solution. Having an outsider’s opinion, one that is unbiased and looking in on the problem from a distance might just be exactly what is needed to spark the right ideas for a turn around in the business. In total, this exercise should take between 40 minutes and an hour to complete.

Why hire an expensive business analyst to come up with new ideas when this new trend is an option? It’s a fun and exceptionally fruitful exercise that doesn’t cost a cent.