081:Getting Better (or some) Ideas [Podcast]

Ever get stuck needing ideas, or perhaps just needing better ideas or more ideas? We often find ourselves stuck in not knowing what to do over even seemingly simple decisions. Just the other day I was meeting two friends, one being Jonathan, a musician who has started blogging. Jonathan was stuck trying to find what to write about on his blog and had few ideas. As two of us listened and heard about his vision, we helped him generate over 20 ideas (I bet it was a lot more than that – but I am being conservative) for very interesting blog posts. Not because the other two of us are brilliant, but because we had another perspective. What are you stuck on? What area of your life needs new and fresh ideas? Below I have outlined an approach for creating a one time mastermind session.

“Creative Commons Good Idea” by Celestine Chua is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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How to Create and Ad-Hoc Mastermind Group

Since you are stuck on your limited thinking of ideas, how about we think about this…

  1. Get people together. Asking advice one-on-one is good, but bringing a small group of people together generates synergy and new ideas as each person plays off the other. Sure, ask individual advice, but really go crazy and creative with a team of 2 to 6 people.
  2. Get the right people together. Make sure you avoid the naysayers and those who are negative about everything. Also perhaps best not to invite two people who dislike one another. Look for positive people who you think would like to give their advice (most people do) and who will be willing to help.
  3. Mix experts and novices. Having both the expert and the novice giving you feedback really helps. Sometimes the expert is missing that fresh view.
  4. Avoid those who have an agenda. Anyone who has skin in the game might reduce the flow of ideas. To get unbiased opinions, find people who are not going to be impacted when you decide.
  5. Take notes. Be ready to write it all down. The ideas, once they start, will come like crazy. You might even ask them if you can record. Use you iPhone or other smart phone in some memo mode to record the conversation. (Be sure to get OK first.)
  6. Tell them what you are doing. Let them know up front they are one of  few in the group and you will need about 1-2 hours of their time. Offer to buy the pizza in return.

 

At The Meeting

  1. Give them the scope. Start the meeting by explaining what the problem is you are trying to solve. Best if you get clear on it first, but not critical.
  2. Answer honestly any question they ask. They may feel off topic for a moment, but go with it as you can. For instance, when people are starting a company and need product ideas, we will often start asking them about why they want to start a business. While not what they asked us about, these questions help direct the conversation. Also, you might learn you were asking the wrong question. (Which happens OFTEN.)
  3. Do not kill ideas. This is brainstorming, so do not tell them the ideas are stupid or will not work. You might need to clarify constraints, but again, be willing to learn what you thought was a constraint is really an opportunity.
  4. Wrap it up. After your alloted time, wrap it up even if ideas are still flowing. Tell them you would like to hear more but you want to let the group get on to other things and not monopolize your time.
  5. Expect to create more meetings. Everyone at these mastermind meetings wins. They all walk away with ideas about their problems and new ways to think about it. So,  expect that some might want you to return the favor and attend their mastermind session.

 

What Kind of Problems?

Here are some of the challenges you might consider for an ad-hoc mastermind group.

  • What do I do about this situation at work where my boss does not listen?
  • Should I take this other job?
  • What kind of work should I be looking for?
  • Should I change jobs?
  • How do I decorate my den? (Do this standing in your den)
  • What kind of business should I start?
  • What kind of products should I create?
  • What gift should I buy my spouse?
  • What school should I send my son/daughter to?
  • What should I name my dog?  

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Question: Have you tried this before? Would love to hear how it works for you. You can leave a comment by clicking here.