There’s an aspect of every organization’s strategic planning process that has always been, well, downright painful and flat-out unproductive.

Every one of you reading this right now has gone through the arduous process knows what I’m referring to.

Sometimes it starts with a good-intention facilitator and the magical appearance of large poster boards, or Post-It notes, or dry erase boards with different colored Sharpies that are inevitably dried out. People scurry to the lunch room to stock up on the strongest coffee or tea they can find, or high-octane sugars to power them through what’s going to be yet another  LONG, mind-numbing process.

In a word? Brainstorming. For what should be a relatively simple and straight-forward process, it’s certainly has gotten a bad rap over the years. Why? Most organizations don’t brainstorm correctly.

Let’s get to the root problem:  What are we really trying to accomplish?  Most teams approach brainstorming as if it were a magic wand; a process that solves everything.  We’re trying to increase employee engagement and participation, solicit each individual’s spontaneous ideas and perspectives, get group consensus, collaboratively find solutions to solve problems, create alignment, and agree on priorities.

Whew! That’s a lot to ask, don’t you agree?

It’s time to stop the nonsense and bring the brainstorming process to the 21st Century. To do so, we need to step back, and focus on the process and benefits of what effective brainstorming could bring to a critical business process like strategic planning. 

Let’s consider the first step in strategic planning (Strategic Vision) and how effective brainstorming could add value: 

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Discipline I: Strategic Vision

“What will we be great at?” “What will make us different?” These are the questions that the first discipline challenges the leadership team to answer. In most organizations we work with, the members of the leadership team start with a different vision of what the organization should ‘have’, ‘do’ and ‘be’. By collaborating to answer a series of important questions, the leadership team develops a shared vision that articulates clearly what the organization is going to excel at over the long term.

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Can you see how a list of focused questions can make the process of determining strategic vision more productive?

Now, all we need is a tool to capture both the questions and the collective responses from our teams (even if they’re remote.)  Throw out all the Word documents, spreadsheets, Post-It notes, and whiteboards. Turn off all the video conferencing with PowerPoints.

Agile organizations that understand the value of effective brainstorming use the simple, (and FREE) RightPage brainstorming app from Six Disciplines.

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Want to infuse your next strategic planning process with a more effective way of brainstorming? Look at the posts below, then download your own copy of RightPage – and experience how much more productive your brainstorming can be.