Industry Thinking
October 19, 2016
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Amp Up Your Ideation: Recruit the Right Mix of Minds to Maximize Your Results

When it comes to identifying breakthrough ideas, every challenge is unique. And successfully meeting each challenge depends heavily on sourcing the right brains for the specific job at hand.

We’ve found that one particularly effective way to do this is to custom recruit a diverse panel of high-performing thinkers from different backgrounds and disciplines—bringing them together to solve whatever the challenge may be. Curating a unique combination of complementary skills, experiences and perspectives allows us to unlock richer, more differentiated ideas that set the stage for in-market success.

But for this approach to be successful, it’s critical that we recruit the just-right mix of panelists to join our efforts. So how does that work?

Anytime we decide to create a custom panel, we like to work in reverse, envisioning what the possible solutions are and what the final deliverables could look like. By thinking with the end in mind, we are able to determine what types of people we will need in order to solve the challenge.

A typical panel may feature a mix of proven creatives, high-IQ thinkers from groups like Mensa and informed subject matter experts—some who are close to the core of the problem and some who are outside the core and can bring in new thinking. This may seem like an unusual blending of brain types, but that’s the point—there’s magic that happens when all of those different mindsets mingle together.

Once we have established the type of people we want, we carefully screen each specific individual in order to ensure that they are the right fit for the project. We don’t just want a “type” of person with certain skills or knowledge, we want individuals who are truly passionate about solving the specific challenge before us. Passionate people produce and we know that we can harness that passion throughout the ideation process to push ideas further and build them into meaningful concepts.

After the final team members are in place, we arm them with a definitive challenge and then turn them loose to ideate and collaborate—and not just for a day or an afternoon session, but for several weeks.

I have personally utilized this approach to solve complex problems for countless clients in the past, including more than 30 Fortune 500 companies—and I have picked up many valuable learnings along the way.

Here are a few of the most important:

  • Recruit a diverse mix of thinkers for any challenge—unusual combinations of thinkers produce unparalleled results.
  • Go after panelists with proven creativity—no need to waste time training brains.
  • Carefully screen your panelists—not just for expertise, but also for passion, because passionate panelists produce.
  • Limit the number of panelists for ideation to about 15 or 20—larger quantities are more likely to hurt the quality of the output than help it.
  • Recruit experts from both close-in and far-out verticals—you want the right combination of informed experience and unbridled, fresh thinking.

Interested in having a conversation about how to recruit the best panelists for brainstorming? Connect with me on LinkedIn or leave a comment below!

David Wynett is SVP, Strategy & Innovation at Seed Strategy where he finds new ways to mine ideas that are not only meaningful to consumers but also feasible for clients.

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