Brainstorming Asks Questions and Solves Problems

Posted by Gerry Poe


clarity cornerstoneLike a "sixth sense", brainstorming or feedback for clarity is critical to the Five Systems for Success.  Without early and often feedback processes, we could build a bridge to nowhere.  With brainstorming, we assimilate the broad-based input and thinking from our teams.

Some problem cases where discussion brings forth issues in need of solving:

  1. Sales order-to-cash and customer service processing costs
  2. Shipping and freight processing costs
  3. Profits are not sustaining growth or operation costs
  4. Market fluctuations cause sliding business revenues and volumes
  5. Product development cycles are long, costly and fewer wins
  6. Infrequent new product releases are enabling the competition

Talking as a group, with project managers and team leaders brings problems the surface? Prioritizing and solving these problems would be difficult if you did not discuss and instead, did “business as usual”. When we risk our reputation and speak up, willing to look foolish or incompetent, we tell the company we care and want it to be successful. In our families, do we talk about drug abuse or just be quiet and don’t ruffle feathers? We ruffle the feathers to clean the dust mites out. Openness, withour fear of retribution, builds trust which is key to dialog and positive results.

An example:

A company is implementing electronic data interchange (EDI). In training and implementation processes, discussions were brought up about many related elements of company policies and procedures. One of which was entry of sales order for new customers. Policy: New customers must go through a validation and credit checking process, establish pricing, tax codes, geographic locale, sales rep assignment, terms and limits for the new account. Current Procedure: The New order is not entered but held aside, pending finance approval of the customer. (3-5 perhaps 10 days later, the customer is approved and the order can be entered, if it can be found in the stack of other orders on manual-hold). Results: In the discussions, discovering the system allows for “quotations” to be created for new and existing customers without impacting finance or inventory. Policy was changed and now orders are entered as they arrive and quotes are not held off-system.

If the discussion-opportunity did not take place, the problem would not have surfaced and the benefits are unknown. In short, this saves the company 2-5 steps and as many days in sales order entry for at least one type of order and opens up more savings because of “new” functionality awareness.

Summary:

I think "brainstorming is thought leadership through group-think". Brainstorming clearly enables growth through trust, building clarity while adding filtering, which, may otherwise be unattainable. In a recent meeting, I had the opportunity, first-hand, to see growth and results for a company change in the span of a meeting. Results oriented, purposeful direction, trust, and respect allowed proper actions to rise out of an otherwise confusing course of action. "Clarity is the cornerstone of purpose" ~ Gerald L. Poe

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