One of the greatest innovators of our time, Albert Einstein once said: “If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.”
When it comes to getting ahead, particularly in an industry as competitive as property management, innovation is key. Ideation sessions are a great tool for brainstorming unique and creative solutions and coming up with fresh, new ideas. If done properly, ideation sessions should be a safe place where your team can feel comfortable sharing absurd ideas, as Einstein mentioned. It is from those crazy notions where the secret to your success and longevity may arise.
In order for this to happen, ideation sessions must be built upon a foundation of trust, openness, creativity and a certain degree of positive energy. If you’re interested in adopting this practice within your organization but are unsure where to begin, here are a few techniques to try.
Establish a judgment-free environment.
The more honest and vulnerable a person is, the more likely they are to generate creative and out-of-the-box ideas. To create this type of environment, begin each ideation session by asking participants to share a funny or embarrassing story about themselves.
Focus on quantity vs. quality.
The idea behind brainstorming isn’t to come up with one or two perfect ideas. It’s to generate as many ideas as possible in the allotted time – even if those ideas are outlandish. If you are focusing more on quality vs. quantity, you risk missing out on what could be the next best thing. You can work on refining the list at a later point, but for, have your team go to town.
As mentioned, in order for an ideation session to be successful, participants must feel comfortable sharing any and all ideas they come up with. This will not happen if the ideas being shared are analyzed or criticized. To avoid this, suspend any feedback until a later date. For now, just focus on listing as many thoughts as possible.
Encourage the absurd.
Einstein was a genius, yet he embraced the so-called absurd. How much more can your property management company benefit from crazy, outlandish and even insane ideas? Ever hear of the Pet Rock? An everyday guy named Gary Dahl came up with the concept which undoubtedly drew plenty of mockery. Yet, that silly idea eventually made Dahl a millionaire. Keep that in mind when brainstorming.
Have a goal and ask questions.
Make sure your participants have a clear mission in mind before beginning an ideation session, even if it’s something as simple as ideas for finding new property management clients. This will help keep everyone on track and facilitate a more productive session. If the conversation lags, be prepared to jump in and ask thought provoking questions. You want to guide the conversation in the right direction at all times.
Set a time limit.
Brainstorming can be exhausting. Don’t overdo it with your ideation sessions. Otherwise, you risk burning your team out and putting a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. The most productive sessions are typically short – usually no more than 30 minutes. If you plan on starting with an ice-breaker, you can add a few minutes at the beginning, but the actual brainstorming portion should be limited in time.
If you want to be successful in property management, you sometimes need to think outside the box, try new things and take risks. Ideation sessions foster collaboration and creativity, which can lead to breakthroughs you never thought possible. Give the six steps above a try and see what your team can come up with!