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How to successfully brainstorm an idea into reality

Rajesh Bhasin, Chief Information Officer, Societe Generale, on a method to translate ideas in to action. By Pooja Paryani

A senior IT executive, over the last 23 years Rajesh Bhasin has handled the technology management function of various multinational banks. He has provided strategic direction and support to senior management on global IT delivery, process improvement, project management, and technology architecture. For his achievements in the field, Rajesh was recognised as a Banking Icon in CIO Power List 2016. Rajesh is a firm believer in finding innovative solutions to problems, and he emphasises the importance of the brainstorming process. “Oftentimes, when I am not pre-occupied with tasks especially during holidays or while travelling, I think of ways to bring about improvement/efficiency in the way tasks are performed. These ideas could be from different areas of life. For example, how to manage traffic better in a particular area or how my team can achieve better results at work or it may even be a new business idea, or some thoughts on development for the underprivileged. I keep exploring these ideas and develop them further.

“I’ve also realised that it’s imperative the ideas be shared with people to bring them to life. People often aren’t comfortable doing that. They’re worried whether others would take them seriously, what would their reaction be, etc. Worse, what if they steal the idea! However, contrary to all these fears, such sharing helps in getting feedback and information on how to better the idea and bring greater value”.

“Even though an idea is thought of by an individual, its execution is the key and for that sufficient brainstorming is important before implementation. Here is a method I have developed that might be useful in developing your next big idea and to take it to the next level.”

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1. Define your goal
“Before starting any discussion on your idea, be clear about its objective or the goal you want to achieve. How it will help you/others? What value it will bring? Is it for yourself/team/community/state/country?”

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2. Don’t kill the idea in your head
“Many a times you have an idea that you are absolutely convinced about and but are not sure if it has already been translated into action or whether it would be successful. So you need to continue having this internal discussion and come up with questions and answers for yourself. Most of the time, during these conversations you end up with questions for which there are no answers or you think that it’s too difficult to be achieved. So you bury the idea, then and there, and do not take the next step to discuss it with others. This kills the innovation/ideation process. So always push the idea forward, discuss it with your team, peers, friends, family, like-minded people, etc.”

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3. Flesh out the idea in detail
“Now that you’ve decided to share the idea, express it in detail. Share all elements you have thought about—its positive/negatives, challenges, concerns, success factors, demand, applicability in the present/future, etc. Express all your thoughts, from a broad overview to the minute details. Oftentimes, you will find your answers when you flesh out your idea.”

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4. Get into a Q&A session
“Once you share your thoughts with people, it will kick-start their own thought process and they will have many questions to gain clarity. Be patient, answer their questions freely, do not withhold information as you never know, a minor fact may be the key to unlocking more clarity and efficiency. I have realised that the greater the number of questions, the more likely you are to have clarity as well as increase your chances to take the idea to fruition.”

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5. Invite feedback
“The most important aspect of this entire exercise is to develop the ability to give and receive feedback. This critical aspect is often ignored or not taken seriously, and as a result individuals tend to become judgmental about the people giving the feedback. Be open, listen carefully, take notes, do not justify/challenge/argue, understand that people are helping you to improve on the idea by sharing their viewpoint and thoughts. So take it in the spirit it is meant.”

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6. Review the idea
“Now that all elements are gathered, commence a review process. Actively consider any and all feedback given, you never know what may come handy and see whether the concerns can be addressed, new things incorporated or whether it makes sense to reformulate the idea. Don’t hesitate to drop the idea if you find that it lacks a strong spine, as such ideas are half-baked and will fail during execution. However, failed ideas are the foundation on which the next killer idea is developed. People tend to become sentimental about their ideas and may not want to drop them. But if after discussions you find that there are too many negatives then positives, it’s better to drop the idea at this stage itself.”

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7. Sometimes try it out despite negative feedback
“However, if the feedback is negative, but you personally are quite confident/passionate about it, then I think there’s no harm in trying it out. A good way of going about it is to perform a small proof of concept. If that’s not possible, throw the idea to the public at large to see their response. There are many ways to do this online.”
Photograph: Pat Joyce/Flick 

Categories:   Lifestyle, Work Buzz

Comments

  • Posted: October 27, 2016 11:34

    Sandesh TG

    Good one!!To me 2nd and 7th points - killing ideas in ones mind and trying despite negative feedback seems to be most apt. There are always numerous ideas in ones mind which never gets actionized and also gets putout due to negative comments.

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